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Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News for September 21, 2006

Edited by Greg Johnson, Laura Weislo and Jeff Jones

Freire bets on Valverde

By Antonio J. Salmerón

For the second consecutive year, Oscar Freire will lose his chance for the World Championship. The three-time World Champion said to Marca, "I have stopped riding for almost two weeks, doing nothing, but I have not improved. At the outset I improved a little, but the problems have returned again. Freire began suffering from cervical vertebrae problems during this year's Tour de France. "I really feel helpless, and I'll certainly be frustrated on race day." Freire tips his compatriot Alejandro Valverde for the win: "It would be no surprise if Valverde wins. He is the Pro Tour leader, and has finished second in the Vuelta, but, in addition, he took Liege-Bastogne-Liege this year. He is capable of a World Championship. In fact, Valverde has already been second in twice, although Bettini, Vinokourov and Di Luca are strong rivals. I would not discount Boonen, either."

Doping case rocks Austrian team

By Hedwig Kröner and Susan Westemeyer

The Austrian federation, host of the Salzburg World Championships, is is deep turmoil after the anti-doping test of one of its U23 riders, Marco Oreggia, returned positive on Thursday morning. The A probe of the 20 year-old contained traces of Erythropoietin (EPO).

Oreggia had to undergo heart surgery after suffering a stroke in 2004, and "is therefore not stupid enough to take forbidden substances," according to his father Gianni Oreggia. "He has to take a drug for his heart; maybe that is the reason for this positive result."

The young Austrian rider, who finished fifth recently in the Trofeo Bianchin in Italy, will now be replaced by Georg Hausbacher, and has one week to ask for the opening of the B sample.

Moreover, the two other Austrian U23 riders, Markus Eibegger and Christian Ebner, who missed out-of-competition controls only a few days ago and were therefore excluded of the World's team, may also return abnormal blood values.

"The use of EPO cannot be excluded [in these cases]," said the general secretary of the Austrian federation (ÖRV), Rudolf Massak. The two riders took the doping tests later, so their results will be known only in the beginning of next week.

Tests conducted on pro riders Bernhard Kohl and Rene Haselbacher as well as three other U-23 riders came back negative.

More controls

On Thursday moring between 7:40 and 9:00am, 19 riders from the following teams were blood tested: USA, Uruguay, Germany, Korea and Norway. All riders were declared fit to start.

Wrubleski crashes at World's TT

Canada opened their bid for the 2006 Road World Championships with Anne Samplonius (Montreal, QC) having the best Canadian performance, placing 20th in the elite women's time trial. One of the two Canadian women racing the 26km time trial, Alex Wrubleski (Regina, SK), had a terrible crash on a left turn and went straight into the security fence. She was immediately taken to the hospital as a precaution, but escaped with only a deep bruise to her knee. She should have sufficient time to recover in time for Saturday’s road race.

Iranian participation doubtful

The Iranian delegation of six riders for the World Road Championships in Salzburg might not actually make it to Austria in time for the event. The riders and coaches were expected to arrive in the city Mozart on Monday, but did not show up. In a letter sent to Salzburg officials, the team declared that it was not going to be able to travel to Austria because the necessary visas could not be issued in time.

Nevertheless, the situation is confusing as the organising committee of the World's said that it had sent the necessary documents for visa application to the Austrian embassy in Teheran on August 29, and not, as the Iranian federation stated, only on September 10. The UCI was also surprised about it. "Problems with the delivering of visas are new to us," UCI press officer Enrico Carpani told Austrian media.

Whether the Iranian athletes will participate on Sunday in the road race, thus remains unclear.

Spanish federation backs Valverde

Because of the ongoing rumours in the Spanish and European press, which linked Alejandro Valverde to Eufemiano Fuentes, the doctor incriminated in the so-called Operation Puerto doping affair, the Spanish federation RFEC issued a communiqué on Thursday morning at the World Championships, defending the rider and the Spanish squad at the World's.

"Without a doubt, Alejandro Valverde is not implicated in the investigations of the Guardia Civil," the statement read. Furthermore, in response to rumours that there had been positive doping results at the Vuelta a España, the federation declared that it had "no knowledge of any of the participating riders having tested positive at the controls during the Vuelta 2006," and asked the attending media representatives to support the Spanish selection at the event.

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

Discovery gains two, loses 11, with more signings to come

The Discovery Channel team has undergone a massive turnover of personnel for 2007 with the revelation that 11 of the team's 27 riders will not be riding for the team next year.

Last weekend's Vuelta a Espana may have been the final ride in Disco strip for riders such as Jose Azevedo, Michael Barry, Manuel Beltran, Viatcheslav Ekimov, Roger Hammond, Leif Hoste, Benoit Joachim, Gennady Mikhaylov, Paolo Savoldelli, Jurgen Van Den Broeck and Max Van Heeswijk, because they won't be lining up in 2007.

"After the retirement of Lance in 2005 it was natural for our team to begin making changes," explained Team Sports Director Johan Bruyneel. "The Team was built around Lance for seven years and as we move out of the Lance era we are now looking at new objectives in addition to the Tour de France. With those new objectives it is natural that we will make changes and that some riders will also look to make a change." Ekimov, who is retiring from the sport, will stay on at DCPCT as the outfit's Assistant Sports Director.

Joining Discovery's 2007 Pro Tour team is Slovenia's Uros Murn, who joins the team from Phonak, and Belgian Gianni Meersman, who will make his debut with the team. "Gianni will definitely need time to develop as a rider but we believe he has what it takes to be successful on the Pro Tour," explained Bruyneel.

The pair join Levi Leipheimer, Sergio Paulinho and Tomas Vaitkus who have already been signed to the 2007 squad, with more additions expected to be announced over coming weeks.

"I am very confident that we will continue to win big races in 2007 with our new roster," concluded Bruyneel.

Liquigas signs Pozzato and Trenti for two seasons

Liquigas has signed Filippo Pozzato and Guido Trenti to race for the outfit in both the 2007 and 2008 seasons. "Pozzato is much more than a promising rider," explained Liquigas Sport's Managing Director Roberto Amadio.

"Judging from the wins he claimed in seven years as a pro and the excellent performances of the last months, I think we have cause for great expectations."

The pair signed agreements with the outfit yesterday in Gazzada, Varese, where the national team is attending a training camp. "I'm sure my choice is the best: I want to hit the most prestigious goals in the Liquigas Team," said 25-year-old Pozzato, who has collected 28 victories during his professional career.

Odriozola joins Euskaltel-Euskadi

By Antonio J. Salmerón

The Basque team manager, Miguel Madariaga, has announced that the ex-director of Orbea, Jon Odriozola will be replacing director sportif Julian Gorospe. Odriozola had been offered a continued position with Orbea, but because he valued the familiarity of that organization, he delayed making a decision, but he eventually accepted Madariaga's offer. Igor González de Galdeano will remain as Euskaltel's technical director.

Two Danish riders to Buitenpoort

The Dutch Buitenpoort - Flexpoint team has signed two young Danish riders, Mie Bekker Lacota and Trine Schmidt. 17 year-old Lacota won the European time trial and road championships in Valkenburg this year, and also won a world title on the track. Trine Schmit, also 17, was second in the European time trial championship.

"Both riders have a lot of talent and both really want to ride in our team," said team manager Jean-Paul van Poppel. Both have signed one year contracts.

Eric Vanderaerden - back at the races

Eric Vanderaerden was one of the heroes of cycling in the 1980s and a winner of the Tour of Flanders and Paris Roubaix. The Belgian legend hung up his wheels in the '90s but is now back in the sport as the new Directeur Sportif. He took the helm in the Tour of Britain back in August and our UK Cyclingnews correspondent Gerry McManus went along for the ride.

Eric checking the points situation.
Photo ©: Gerry McManus
(Click for larger image)

Still with the flowing blond locks that he was famous for, Eric jumps in behind the steering wheel, quickly double-checking the DFL team list taped to the dashboard which includes the riders' nicknames, and then onto the team radio to ensure communication with the riders is working correctly. 'Fonzi' (Russell Downing) had begun the stage wearing the green jersey as points leader. Dean will certainly not be able to live up to his nickname 'Day-Off' as the team will inevitably be involved in defending his brother Russell's leadership.

"1996 was my last year racing," said the former Belgian champion. "Times have changed. Now the young guys start at 22 or 24 and they don't do that many races. They have to learn for one or two years and then move up in the team. I was very young and very strong and was instantly the team leader. From the age of 21, I had all the high pressure on me. I was a pro for 14 years and that's a long time."

Click here for the full story.

Moerman dubs Cycling Center's 2006 season a success

The director of the Belgium-based Cycling Center, Bernard Moerman, has declared the 2006 season a success for the rider-development facility that's designed to house up to 22 athletes.

"I think that for this year, the biggest reason for the improvement has been the solid training camps that we had in Albuquerque," explained Moerman."The way we could build our team and the training over there was just fabulous for that period in the season."

Moerman's facility (see feature from 2004) is aimed primarily at American cyclists and offers a place for the competitors to stay, train and race during the European season. "The growth most of the guys made this season is so visible - I got so much stronger," explained Arizona competitor Nate Fields. "I cannot wait to be back next season."

Moerman is eagerly anticipating the 2007 season after such a strong year. "All of the visible improvement and the good results are bringing us more applications and more invitations for good races for next season," he added.

Australia to search sports for medal contenders

Australian cycling officials will begin hunting for "big engine" women to underpin the nation's Beijing Olympic games team for 2008. Women's cycling coach Warren McDonald announced the plan at the UCI World Road Championships in Austria, declaring that Australia doesn't have a medal contender after seeing the leap forward rival nations have taken at the championships.

"We'll do some studies and research," explained McDonald of their hunt for an existing athlete to cross into cycling. "There are a number of sports that have shown they have been successful…triathlon and rowing are a couple of big engine sports." The comments come after Australia's Oenone Wood and Victoria Kathy Watt finished 27th and 28th respectively, some three minutes behind Kristin Armstrong - winner of the women's World Championships time trial event.

"We've been just outside the top ten the last couple of years but the level has gone extremely high and at the moment I don't think we have a medalist time triallist," concluded McDonald. "We need to find a girl with a very big engine that can ride fast for 30 minutes."

Centennial Park forms new cycling committee

Reported by John Sunde

Sydney's Centennial Park is one of the crowded city's most popular training circuits for competitive cyclists and was a key part of the Sydney 2000 Olympics road and TT courses. However, cyclists have to share the park with other users and regularly exceed the 30kmh speed limit on the relatively-safe internal loop road.

The regular training bunches are said to be dangerous and even frightening to small children, to quote certain media outlets.

However, in response to the ongoing dispute over use of the Park, a new advisory committee to represent the interests of cyclists has been established as part of an initiative by the Centennial Park Trust to better understand and plan for the needs of cycling.

The "Cyclists Liaison Committee" consists of the newly appointed Centennial Parklands Cycling Liaison Officer, Brian Page and representatives of local cycling and triathlon clubs and community cycling groups. The second quarterly meeting chaired by NSW Police Inspector Eddie Bosch was held at the Trust offices on September 20 and enthusiastically embraced the objectives of the committee which will be:
to establish a formal framework for consultation with cycling user groups;
enhance the spirit of self regulation and open communication;
provide a forum to raise and resolve issues;
be part of future discussion and consultation on key issues of policy, strategy and legislation;
act as an advisory committee to the Director of Centennial Park and the Centennial Park trust.

The meeting, which was attended by representatives of Randwick Botany, Sydney, St George, Peloton and Easts cycling clubs, along with BRATS, Balmoral, Bondi Fit and Steam triathlon clubs, unanimously agreed that the formation of the committee was one of the most positive initiatives to ever be undertaken to safely accommodate the needs of cyclists as part of the wider Park community.

Jammin' in the Park
Photo: © Tom Balks

Centennial Park has hosted many great cycling events of the years which has included countless State and National Road Titles, stages of the Commonwealth Bank Cycle Classic, Ride for Life and of course the memorable 2000 Olympic Games road race won by Jan Ullrich.

Centennial Parklands occupies a special place in the heart of the Australian nation as it includes a monument to the birth of the nation, the Federation Pavilion.

Covering more than 360 hectares, the Parklands is one of the world’s finest and most used urban open spaces, is situated a mere five kilometres from Sydney’s central business district and attracts over five million visits each year. For more information contact Brian Page

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