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Latest Cycling News for October 27, 2006

Edited by Gregor Brown

Tour tattle: more reactions to 2007 Tour de France

By Tim Maloney, European Editor in Paris

Johan Bruyneel
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

With the absence of many big names at yesterday's Tour de France presentation, quotes were few and far between. Discovery Channel sport director Johan Bruyneel, just returned from Japan where he was at the Japan Cup race spoke to Cyclingnews after he had a chance to study the parcours for the 94th edition of La Grand Boucle.

The man who guided Lance Armstrong to seven-straight Tour wins is generally positive about the 2007 Tour de France. "The (2007) Tour parcours is a classic one, and on paper, it looks quite hard, more so than the last edition," noted the Belgian. "The first time trial and the Pyrenees stages come late in the race so that will be hard. The Tour is well balanced, with three stages in the Alps and three in the Pyrenees. There is no team time trial, which our team likes, but overall this is a logical course and I like it."

A colourful look at the 2007 Tour de France
Photo ©: AFP
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Five-time Tour winner Bernard Hinault, the last French rider to win the La Grand Boucle said that "this is a balanced Tour. I've heard some say that it's not that hard, but it's the riders that make the race. The problem is that the riders use less and less the natural resources of the terrain and focus on strategic sectors of the race, which is a mistake. In 1985, I attacked when the mountains started, against what people thought, and I almost won the Tour with that attack."

Another Five-time Tour winner, Eddy Merckx, explained that "This will be a special year for the Tour. The course is well designed, balanced and tough. One thing sticks in my mind is what Christian Prudhomme said; 'I hope there will be a winner in Paris'. That is necessary and that’s what everyone wants to see."

French star Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) said, "The beginning of this Tour is less classic; there are a lot of stages where long breaks can succeed. And there are some tough mountain stages, with climbs that are not well known, which can create some surprises.

"As for the time trials, it will depend how fresh you are," continued Chavanel. "The first one, just after the Alps will happen when your legs are tired."

Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears) can't escape
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
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His French compatriot Christophe Moreau (Ag2R Prévoyance) explained that "this Tour has a good balance that should provide a wide-open race, which won't be blocked by the sprinters or climbers teams. And two time trials in 10 days, that's a bit much, but the hard climbs in the Alps will balance that out. As for the start in England, that's probably a nice promotion for cycling, but otherwise it's nothing. The Tour is in France, and that's all."

2006 Tour runner-up Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears) said of the upcoming Tour de France that "well some things might happen in the first two weeks, but beginning with the first TT in Albi, and afterwards in the Pyrenees, is where the real action will be in this Tour." Pereiro then squarely put his alliances with his teammate, "(Caisse d'Epargne) will go all out to win this Tour and with Alejandro Valverde, we have a big chance to win. I'll be really motivated to help him win."

(See our previous news flash regarding Floyd Landis and the Tour de France stage list. Meanwhile, Cyclingnews has already taken a lap of the prologue course in London - see our report.)

Leblanc receives ovation

Former Tour race director, Jean-Marie Leblanc
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
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Former Tour de France race director Jean-Marie Leblanc was in Paris yesterday afternoon for the presentation of the 2007 Tour de France, an event he presided over for 19 years. The 62 year-old Frenchman received a five-minute standing ovation form the 3000-plus people gathered at the Palais des Congrès.

Leblanc, from the middle of the audience, rose to say 'thank you' and to give the nod to Christian Prudhomme, the new Tour de France race director. Prudhomme, learning and following the experienced master in the 2006 Tour, was handed the tour from caring hands.

Before Leblanc started guiding the Tour from behind in his official car, his passion was up front, on the bike. Professional from 1967 to 1971, he made two appearances in France's grand tour. After racing, Leblanc continued to follow cycling as a journalist for L'Equipe for 17 years, which eventually led him to head the Tour de France in 1988.

Millar wants London's prologue

David Millar (Saunier Duval-Prodir)
Photo ©: AFP
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British David Millar (Saunier Duval-Prodir) remarked at yesterday's 2007 Tour de France presentation that he would shape his preparations to win the Tour's prologue in London.

"I would never have dreamt such a thing would happen in my career", said the 29 year-old after the route was unveiled. "It is an opportunity for me to show this sport to my family and my friends, but also to show why I love it."

Millar hopes that his time trial expertise, along with the winter spent on the track, will help him achieve the win and Maillot Jaune come next July. "I will build my season on this prologue," said the Scot, who won the prologue in 2000. "I will take benefit from what I've learnt in track cycling. Track cycling gave me speed so I think I can go faster now."

After serving a two-year ban, returned to cycling this last July in the Tour. Taking his form he gained in France, Millar won stage 14 of the Vuelta a España, a 33 kilometre time trial.

Ullrich remarks on the 2007 TdF

By Susan Westemeyer

Jan Ullrich has no team and no professional license -- but he is still looking forward to riding the Tour de France in 2007. "I assume that everything will be cleared up in 2007 and that I will be able to attack. I am a fighter. And when I appear, I will fight to win. That is certain!", he told BILD magazine.

The German's long-time mentor, Rudy Pevenage, said, "Jan can win. Three time trials, two of them fairly long, that's just perfect for him. If he starts then I think he will be one of the super favourites."

The 1997 Tour winner was embroiled in the Operación Puerto investigation, and removed by T-Mobile just prior to the start of the 2006 Tour de France. Since July, T-Mobile and Ullrich have gone their separate ways, leaving the rider in search of a way to race for the 2007 season.

Gerolsteiner and T-Mobile management comments on DNA testing

By Susan Westemeyer

As reported in Thursday's news, the International Association of Professional Cycling teams (AIGCP) has voted unanimously to require DNA testing of pro cyclists, in order to avoid future problems such as those exposed by Operación Puerto.

"We must have blood samples from the riders, so that if need be, they can be used to clarify matters," Gerolsteiner's Sports Director Christian Henn told the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

His boss, team manager Hans-Michael Holczer, confirmed with the agreement of the AIGCP, saying, "We will now include that in all new contracts and work it in to the old ones." He further added, "The legal side is certainly rather problematic," and noted, "I was surprised and very happy over the unanimity. We're doing the right thing."

Riders involved in Operación Puerto may have to give DNA tests in order to sign new contracts. "I can't imagine that Basso will ride for a ProTour team without a DNA test," Henn continued.

T-Mobile Technical Director Luuc Eisenga took note of one of the biggest names involved in Operación Puerto. Remarking on Il Varesino, Eisenga said, "there were some voices that said: Before someone like Basso signs a contract, he will have to give a DNA sample in order to clear up the problem in Spain."

Hansen loses his adenoids

By Susan Westemeyer

Adam Hansen, who will be riding for T-Mobile Team in 2007, is spending a few days of the off-season in the hospital. The 25 year-old had his adenoids removed Friday in the Freiburg Clinic.

"This should make him less susceptible for infections," said T-Mobile spokesman Stefan Wagner to Cyclingnews. The young Australian should be able to resume training in about two weeks.

Evgeni Petrov likely to Tinkoff

Petrov 2006 Giro
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
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Evgeni Petrov of Lampre-Fondital is likely to sign with Omar Piscina's new formation, Tinkoff. According to, the 28 year-old will leave the blue and pink colours of his current ProTour squadra to join with Tinkoff, a new Italian Pro Continental team with Russian sponsorship.

The Russian connection would be perfect for the rider from Kemerobskaja. Petrov, pro since 2001, began his career with Mapei, where he became Russian TT champion and won the Tour de l'Avenir. Bad news struck in 2005, when the Russian was stopped for abnormal blood values just prior to the Tour de France.

Omar Piscina, current team manager with LPR, is forming the new squad for 2007; having secured Danilo Hondo and Steffen Weigold, the Italian is said to be courting American Tyler Hamilton.

The Tour de l'Avenir open to nations

The ASO, organizers of the Tour de France, has decided that the 2007 Tour de l'Avenir will be contested by national squads consisting of riders from 19 and 22 years, away from the trade teams and max-limit of 25 years used in recent editions. Further, the tour will also serve as the final test in the Coupe des Nations, a points competition made up of seven races in six different countries.

It is a return to the past for the 44th Tour de l'Avenir; when the French race began in 1961 it was the rule of national teams. First one by Guido De Rosso, the race has seen such big names win, such as Felice Gimondi, Greg LeMond, Miguel Indurain and Laurent Fignon.

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