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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for September 1, 2006

Coming up on

Cyclingnews will cover the 60th edition of the Dauphiné Libéré live as of stage 4 on Wednesday, June 10, at approximately 15:00 local Europe time (CEST)/ 23:00 Australian time (CDT)/ 9:00 (USA East).

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Edited by Anthony Tan, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

Tour de Langkawi saved - almost

By Anthony Tan

Three days before the September 1 deadline, the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) received a cheque from the country's Sports Ministry, saving the Tour de Langkawi from early death. But without knowing exactly how much the cheque was for, and whether it is indeed enough to cover all debts owing, a question mark still hovers over the race's future.

According to Malaysia's New Straits Times, the transaction was confirmed by UCI Asia Tour coordinator Jamaluddin Mahmood. Once the cheque is cleared, payment will be made to creditors for prize money, hospitality and television costs still owing, estimated to be in the range of 4-7 million Malaysian Ringgit (US$1,09-1,90 million).

Cyclingnews was unable to confirm the amount of the cheque or debts owing with the Malaysian cycling federation, as a gag order by the Sports Minister's office has prevented officials from making comment until all matters are resolved.

Despite a few unknowns and inconsistencies, however, it appears plans are already in motion for Tour of Britain organisers Sweetspot to take over the event's organisation - contrary to Malaysian Sports Minister Datuk Azalina Othman Said earlier hopes for the MNCF to do so. Sources at the New Straits Times also told the paper that Sweetspot provided incumbent organisers First Cartel Sdn Berhad with a RM950.000 (app. US$260.000) loan to help bail out the race.

Tour of Britain chief executive Hugh Roberts revealed to Timesport a proposal that includes a number of key personnel - including eight Malaysians - previously involved with the Tour de Langkawi to work on next year's event, which is to be renamed the 'Tour of Malaysia'.

"The Malaysian team form the nucleus of the group who will be on the ground organising the new Tour of Malaysia, and they will be augmented by other key Tour of Britain personnel who have equally played an important role in the past versions of what used to be known as Le Tour de Langkawi," said Roberts.

"The combination of these two important sets of personnel will pretty much be the main driving force behind the execution of The Tour of Malaysia, provided we are given the mandate by the Sports and Tourism Ministries and the MNCF," he said.

Should this deal eventuate, an interesting twist is that the race's board of trustees - being the Malaysian Sports and Tourism Ministries, as well as the national cycling federation - will take over ownership of the race from First Cartel, not Sweetspot. According to Roberts, Sweetspot will be involved mainly in the technical areas of organisation.

As creditors wait to be paid, a place on next year's UCI calendar beckons. It is likely the MNCF will ask the sport's governing body for a late January/ early February placement, similar to previous years, which follows the Tour Down Under in Australia, scheduled for January 16-21, 2007.

See also: Langkawi's future still in doubt

German federation to create blood profiles

The German cycling federation (BDR) is getting serious in the fight against doping. On Thursday, the Bud Deutscher Radfahrer announced a package of new measures, featuring more intensive and better training controls. "This control system is plain and strong. Anyone who doesn't abide by these rules won't represent Germany in any international championship, they don't belong on the German team," BDR president Rudolf Scharping told the SID press agency.

Starting with the 2007 season, the BDR will implement a program under which an individual blood profile will be established for each of the approximately 260 athletes, including licensed professional cyclists.

Highlights of the program:

  • Doping controls will be extended to include under-15 racers.
  • Training controls, especially unannounced ones, will be increased up to 50 percent.
  • The quality of the doping controls will be increased, through the use of simultaneous blood and urine tests.
  • Blood profiles will be established over a longer time period, to be watched over by independent doctors. The riders will be obligated to provide the blood profile to a new team, if they change teams.
  • The fight against doping will be financed by the German teams, sponsors and race organisers.
  • The federation will seek an anti-doping law, which would forbid and make punishable the possession and sale of doping products.
  • Cyclists who must be tested after any race on German soil will be accompanied by a BDR representative from the finish line to the doping control room, as happens at the Olympic Games.
  • Team doctors are to introduce blood volume controls, in order to check for autologous blood doping.
  • The BDR will continue its campaign against doping, and will be very attentive as to finding new ways of prevention.

Health Net chasing two US championships

Health Net presented by Maxxis riders believe they have a number of favourites to challenge for the two USPRO Championship titles up for grabs this Labor Day weekend in Greenville, South Carolina.

Beginning on Friday (today) with the individual time trial, Jeff Louder, Scott Moninger, Roman Kilun, Tim Johnson and Doug Ollerenshaw will challenge the hilly, 20.15 mile course through the rolling hills around Greenville. The team expects Louder and Moninger to have a chance at the podium, but they'll be up against 2004 national time trial champion David Zabriskie (CSC), 2005 national champion Chris Baldwin (Toyota-United) and local favourite George Hincapie (Discovery).

Sunday will be the first ever American-only USPRO road championship, where more than 100 top American cyclists will roll out at 12:30pm ET for the 121 mile race, which will include five trips over 2,000-foot Paris Mountain, and finish with three 3.76-mile circuits in Greenville.

"It's definitely a course that favours a rider like me," said Health Net's Doug Ollerenshaw, who will be motivated to make a good showing after losing much of the early part of the year to a fractured femur. The course also favours Louder and Moninger, as well as Kirk O'Bee, who also possesses a fast finish at the end of a hard race.

Other favourites will include local lad Hincapie, 2005 champion Chris Wherry (Toyota-United), who won last year's championship while riding for Health Net. Levi Leipheimer will be the only Gerolsteiner rider represented, while TIAA-CREF are playing the numbers game, entering 15 of its riders in the race.

"Both the time trial and road courses are definitely challenging," said Health Net pb Maxxis directeur sportif Jeff Corbett.

Riders: Kyle Gritters, Tim Johnson (TT), Mike Jones, Roman Kilun (TT), Jeff Louder (TT), Scott Moninger (TT), Kirk O'Bee, Doug Ollerenshaw (TT), Garrett Peltonen, Mike Sayers
(TT): time trial only

USPRO Championships home

Mario De Sarraga: Mixing it with the big boys

Mario De Sarraga's 140-kilometre solo breakaway failed close to the finish on stage 2. The Spaniard rides for Relax-Gam, the only non-ProTour outfit in the Vuelta a España. The boys in red must deal with the handicap of a much smaller budget than other teams. However, they are mixing it with the best in the Vuelta. De Sarraga instigated the first long breakaway of the Vuelta and compiled enough points to put himself into the lead in that competition. He spoke to Cyclingnews' Hernan Alvarez Macias about how he is coping with the early stages of the Vuelta.

Relax Gam rider Mario De Sarraga
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

Despite the failure of his long solo break on stage 2, Mario De Sarraga was able to accumulate enough points to claim the lead in the mountain's competition. "It was a planned tactic on the stage. I had thought of getting in a breakaway that day. I was lucky to make the breakaway at the beginning and got the mountain classification points and that was what I was interested in. After that I tried to get as far as I could," he said.

He rode solo for 140 long kilometres, but he was caught with 34 kilometres to go. "I expected that the sprinters' team were going to catch me," said De Sarraga. "When you are [alone in the breakaway] you can dream of reaching the finish line in first place but… what made me happy was to get the mountain jersey; that was what I aimed for. If something else came, it would have been another additional joy."

After he was caught by the peloton, he amazingly moved from first position to last as he finished 189th. He lost 6 minutes and 39 seconds to stage winner Paolo Bettini. "The stage was very, very hard," said De Sarraga.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Gerolsteiner's garlic frenzy

Don't be surprised if the rest of the peloton does everything it can to stay away from the Gerolsteiner riders in Friday's stage of the Vuelta a España, says Robert Förster.

It's not that they're worried about crashes, have personality conflicts with them, or anything like that; it all comes down to what the Gerolsteiner guys ate for dinner last night.

On Thursday night, totally out of the blue, Rene Haselbacher started eating garlic, and the others joined in. "There was sort of a paste, we put it on everything, on noodles, on meat, absolutely everything," Förster told "The theory was, if we all ate it, we wouldn't smell it ourselves... We emptied the bowl. Well, garlic is good for your health, isn't it?"

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