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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for October 30, 2006

Edited by Gregor Brown

Allan Davis back racing in Oz

Puerto case file still open

By Anthony Tan

Allan Davis
Photo ©: AFP
Click for larger image

With the cases against all Spanish cyclists previously implicated in Operación Puerto shelved for the time being, which included six riders from the team formerly known as Liberty Seguros-Würth, Australian Allan Davis, who hails from the same team, also received news from his federation last week that he was clear to race in his home country. On Saturday in Queensland, Davis won the Noosa International Criterium for the second time, out-sprinting three-time winner and Tour de France maillot vert Robbie McEwen.

Ever since the 26 year-old from Bundaberg left the Tour de France with his team on the eve of the race, Davis has been in limbo, despite protesting his innocence against any wrongdoing from the outset. When two of his team-mates, Alberto Contador and Sergio Paulinho, were cleared of any legal investigation in early August, the path appeared to be clearing. However, at the time, UCI head Pat McQuaid was quick to ratify that the 58 riders initially implicated in Puerto were still part of an anti-doping investigation, as separate case files were being sent to the respective national cycling federations.

On October 7, the series of anti-doping investigations came to a roadblock when the Madrid court in charge of Operación Puerto told the Spanish federation (RFEC) that they were unable to take any disciplinary action until the court determines exactly what happened. Since then, the Italian cycling federation announced their investigation of Giro d'Italia winner Ivan Basso has been shelved due to lack of evidence, with the Spanish federation following suit last Friday, October 29.

"We sent a letter to Allan Davis' lawyer last week informing them he [Davis] was free to race in Australia," said Australian Cycling Federation (ACF) press officer Gennie Sheer to Cyclingnews. "There is nothing under our [the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA)] code or the WADA [World Anti-Doping Agency] code that states an athlete not found guilty cannot compete."

However, Ms. Sheer noted that while Davis was free to race in Australia, the situation may not extend outside of his home country: "We were sent his case file from the UCI in mid-September, and passed it onto ASADA the very next day," she said, indicating Davis' involvement in Operación Puerto is still under investigation. "Until we hear from them, his file remains open."

While ASADA remains tight-lipped as to when a conclusion will be reached, if charged, Davis would be the first rider to be prosecuted, and in light of the cases so far, the scenario appears unlikely. As for the Puerto investigation itself, the trial is underway and is expected to be completed by mid-next year.

Manolo Saiz breaks silence

By Antonio J. Salmerón

In an interview on Sunday with Radio Nacional de España in Mula, where the León Sánchez Memorial had taken place, ex-director sportif of Liberty Seguros-Würth Manolo Saiz spoke out for the first time in months regarding the Operación Puerto investigation.

The arrest of Manolo Saiz in May this started the massive affiar that has become known as Operación Puerto. He said that the decision taken by the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) to close the disciplinary files against the Spanish cyclists "... is a good news, but, at the same time, bad news, because there has been many people who have been harmed during the last five months."

The 47 year-old Spaniard commented that he remains "calm," and that he continueswith the new incarnation of Liberty Seguros-Würth, Astaná. Saiz admitted that "the damage done does begin to erase all that has happened." Saiz insisted that "many things are not clear" and that he has not been lost in "the illusions by a sport that has done so much."

Saiz finished by saying that, at the moment, he still has not taken a decision own his professional future because his objective is to "finish this and nothing else."

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

Tinkoff interested in Ullrich

Oleg Tinkov, Russian billionaire who is behind the new Tinkoff Credit Systems, is interested in signing Jan Ullrich. According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, one month ago, Tinkov had ordered Team Manager Omar Piscina to make contact with the German cyclist.

Even though Jan Ullrich is caught up in the legal wrangles brought on by Operación Puerto, the man who made his money though brewing beer and restaurants waits patiently. 37 year-old Tinkov is interested in expanding his business through Europe and the USA, thus the interest in Jan Ullrich and American Tyler Hamilton.

As reported last week, Piscina is interested in signing the Olympic gold medallist who was banned from the sport for blood transfusions two years ago following his stage win in the 2004 Vuelta a España. "Tinkov believes that he merits a second chance," confirmed Omar Piscina to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Tinkoff Credit Systems, named so to help promote Tinkov's new banks, will be directed by Orlando Maini and Dimitri Konyshev. Russian Konyshev, who retired this year, should help the eight Russian riders integrate into the team for 2007.

Phonak riders and staff look back

By Susan Westemeyer

Martin Elmiger (Phonak)
Photo ©: Davide Tricarico
Click for larger image

The Phonak staff and riders are saying thank you and goodbye on their team's website. The team has contested its last race and will cease to exist, and the team members look back with mixed feelings.

"I am sorry that we, not only cycling but sports in general, are losing not only a team, but especially a sponsor like no other," says Director Sportif Adriano Baffi. Aurelian Clerc called it "one of the best teams in the world," while for Martin Elmiger, it was "more than a cycling team," and he notes "It will be difficult to put together such a good team in the future."

"For my cycling career, this season with the Phonak Team represented a giant step forward, which I will never forget," said Ryder Hesjedal. Axel Merckx said he found it "a very professional organization with a family atmosphere."

The rest of the cycling world may not find the Phonak experience to be so rosy. The team brought many doping scandals to the sport, from Oscar Camenzind's EPO positive prior to the Athens Olympics, to Tyler Hamilton and Santi Perez' blood doping positives, and finally Floyd Landis' testosterone positive during this year's Tour de France. This a the legacy that Team Phonak must also live with.

Sport Director Jacques Michaud summed it up this way: "I experienced a lot of nice, but also many tragic, moments as part of the Phonak cycling team. Cycling has changed a lot in the last few years. The riders are becoming more and more individualistic. The team feeling, which is especially necessary for success in our difficult sport, is disappearing. My best memories of my time with Phonak Cycling are of the victories which I experienced live, and of my very good and personal relationship with Andy Rihs. I have never met anyone else like him in the whole pro cycling circuit."

Zabel and Risi defend lead

By Susan Westemeyer

Erik Zabel and Bruno Risi have defended their lead in the Six Days of Dortmund, but it wasn't easy. The team of Guide Fulst and Leif Lampater were particularly aggressive, and are now in second place overall, with the same number of rounds as Zabel and Risi.

Six day newcomer Lampater "made an especially good impression," reports the German press agency sid, and rode a good race with his track specialist partner. Third place, one lap back, is held by Danny Stam and Ilio Keisse.

Robert Bartko has had to drop out of the race due to painful bruised ribs caused by a fall in the Six Days of Amsterdam. His partner, Andreas Beikirch, remains in Dortmund as a substitute.

Glomser re-ups with Volksbank

By Susan Westemeyer

Gerrit Glomser will ride for the Austrian Continental Team Volksbank again next year, the team announced Monday. "Last season wasn't all that great, but I haven't lost faith in him. I am convinced that Gerrit will return to his usual strengths," said Team Manager Thomas Kofler.

The 31 year-old Glomser sees the past season not as a reason to doubt, but as a source of motivation. "The team has established itself," noted Glomser. "Volksbank is growing. And the expectations increase with the new challenges.

"We are the underdogs, but we will take advantage of our situation and surprise the others, who don't know what to expect of us," continued Glomser. He welcomed the signing of Gerhard Trampusch, saying he now expects "less pressure, because now everyone won't be hanging on me. We can ride as a double attack and spread the risk. That's a good thing; I'm looking forward to it."

Milram for 2007

There will be five new riders added to Milram for the coming 2007 season. The Italian-German team, led by sprinters Alessandro Petacchi and Erik Zabel, will be joined by former world champion Igor Astarloa for the classics and Australian Brett Lancaster to reinforce the lead-out train. The other three new members are Dutchman Niki Terpstra and Germans Sebastian Schwager and Marcel Sieberg.

The complete 2007 team: Igor Astarloa, Mirko Celestino, Alessandro Cortinovis, Diudia Volodymyr, Sergio Ghisalberti, Brett Lancaster, Ralf Grabsch, Andriy Grivko, Matej Jurco, Christian Knees, Dennis Haueisen, Mirco Lorenzetto, Martin Müller, Alberto Ongarato, Alessandro Petacchi, Enrico Poitschke, Elia Rigotto, Fabio Sabatini, Fabio Sacchi, Björn Schröder, Sebastian Schwager, Carlo Scognamiglio, Marcel Sieberg, Sebastian Siedler, Niki Terpstra, Marco Velo and Erik Zabel.

Caruso gets interest from Lampre-Fondital

Giampaolo Caruso
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Giampaolo Caruso, the first rider who agreed to submit himself for DNA testing, has attracted the attention of Lampre-Fondital. The 26 year-old Siciliano is anxious to find a team for the 2007 season after being sidelined by the Operación Puerto investigations.

"The rider interests us," confirmed Lampre-Fondital Team Manager Beppe Saronni to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "But before all of this, I would like to know what has been said. And I hope that his example will make a good reflection on the other cyclists, who have done nothing but it is right they should find a team."

Botero to UNE-Orbitel reports that Santiago Botero, who was considering retiring earlier this year, will ride next season for the newly-founded Columbian Continental team, UNE-Orbitel. The 34 year-old Columbian was suspended by his Swiss Phonak ProTour team in the wake of the scandal just prior to the Tour de France.

Team Miche News

Team Miche is happy to announce that their rider Przemyslaw Niemec married yesterday. Niemec, winner of this year's Giro di Toscana, was married in his home country of Poland.

Meanwhile, the team has officially announced the signing of Krzysztof Szczawinski. The 27 year-old Polish speedster, this year with Ceramica Flaminia, will help for a solid Miche core with Niemec, Pasquale Muto, Giuseppe Di Grande, Eddy Serri and other new-signing Massimo Giunti.

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