First Edition Cycling News for September 23, 2006
Edited by Jeff Jones and Laura Weislo
Women's race difficult to predict
Three days after the American women dominated the time trial in Salzburg, Austria with Kristin Armstrong and Christine Thorburn taking gold and bronze, respectively, the best women in the world will line up on Saturday for the road race. With an interesting course that borders on being one for the sprinters, but could also be one for the climbers, the result will not be easy to pick.
Starting in downtown Salzburg, the course is made up of 6 laps of a 22.2km circuit, making a total of 132.6km for the women. The terrain is undulating, with each lap consisting of two main climbs. The first climb is on a wide open road and is not very steep, but it is the second climb, which is narrow and twisty at the bottom, that will be important for positioning. The course reaches 547 meters in altitude at the top of this climb in Elixhausen, and from the peak, there is 9km to the finish line.
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).
Click here for the full preview and start list
Spain: "A little bit of luck" for Valverde
In the Spanish camp, the mood was easy on Friday morning as the team sat down with the media representatives to explain its strategies for the upcoming World's road race. Hedwig Kröner was there to see how Alejandro Valverde and his companions were feeling two days ahead of the big event.
"Pressure? Me?" replied Alejandro Valverde as his teammate Carlos Sastre jokingly said that the team leader had a lot on his plate for Sunday's road race. Just before, the helpers of one of the biggest favourites for the 2006 rainbow jersey had described their feelings going into the race, with Valverde naturally named as the man to support for the victory.
But the winner of Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastigne-Liège doesn't show that he is under pressure; quite to the contrary. Valverde made a focused but relaxed impression, and he certainly has all the reason to be confident. Finishing an impressive second in the Vuelta behind Alexandre Vinokourov, the Spaniard took a few days to recuperate before travelling to Austria. "I haven't done anything, really, after the Vuelta," he said. "Just tried to get my forces back and then travelled to Salzburg."
Click here for the full feature.
Bettini king of Italian offensive
Ever since Mario Cipollini sprinted into the rainbow jersey in Zolder in 2002, Italy has been searching for a new world champion coming out of its ranks. But in the last two editions of the event, hosted in Madrid and Verona, the squadra azzurra failed to click thanks to a lack of coherent teamwork. Can they do it in Salzburg? Hedwig Kröner reports.
This time in sunny Austria, team coach Franco Ballerini promised it would be different. "We have the perfect team for this kind of parcours, with one leader (Bettini), one possible second leader (Di Luca) and three other strong men (Pozzato, Rebellin and Paolini), as well as the rest of the team, doing everything in their power to make it work." Sounds familiar?
But actually, the strategy of the Italian squad is understandable: After having assessed the parcours, which was first rated very difficult, Ballerini has now adopted a slightly different approach: to make life as hard as possible for the sprinters in order to eliminate the fast men before the finishing straight. "This type of parcours will only be really selective if it is truly raced hard," said Ballerini, implying that there is a possibility of the likes of Boonen, Zabel and McEwen surviving until the finish.
Click here for the full feature.
UCI wants ProTour TV rights
By Jeff Jones
The UCI is prepared to take firm steps to force the organisers of the three grand tours to become part of the ProTour, thereby gaining more of the valuable TV rights that have caused such a big division between the two most powerful groups in cycling. The UCI's ProTour Council met on Thursday in Salzburg, and reiterated its view that the ProTour is the only way forward for cycling, as well as attacking Tour de France organiser ASO over its stance on rights.
"The most recent attacks from ASO against the UCI ProTour appear to be, as those of the last few years, totally unfounded, and clearly demonstrate that ASO has only one goal: protect its position of superiority in the distribution of the marketing and TV incomes from organizers (around 70%)," said the UPTC in a statement, noting, "As from 2009, the TV rights of all organisers with a license will be grouped and sold together with those of the UCI World Championships."
ASO, together with RCS Sport and Unipublic, wants its races off the ProTour calendar, and has requested the UCI to do so, calling the ProTour "an economic circuit to the service of a commercial brand belonging to the UCI."
The UPTC said that it "completely rejected this interpretation" and has the support of its constituents (UCI ProTeams, ProTour licensees, and riders, represented by Jens Voigt and José Luis Rubiera) to take the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The fight against doping was also on the agenda at the UPTC meeting, and wants stricter regulations that will enable faster resolutions in doping cases. "At instigation of the riders representatives, the UPTC also decided to launch a study on the possibility of establishing the obligation for riders to submit themselves to and DNA test, as well as to realize a profile of the physiological potential of every rider, on the basis of which it would be possible to evaluate their performances.
"Moreover, the UPTC has declared itself favourable to legal actions aiming to impose pecuniary penalties on behalf of all parties involved against riders or others, whose behaviour would have damaged cycling’s, an event or a teams’ interests."
In this context, the UPTC also expressed its "full support of the initiative launched by UCI President Pat McQuaid to make an audit of cycling, and deplores that the only reaction of the Grand Tours on this subject, was focused on the safety of the duration of their races."
The UCI is expected to discuss matters further on Saturday.
44 riders fit for World's
The anti-doping controls continue at the World Championships in Salzburg, Austria. On Friday morning, 44 riders from the following countries were blood-tested by UCI officials: Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Spain and Kazakhstan.
All athletes were declared fit to race.
Unibet interested in Thomas Dekker?
The Gazet van Antwerpen reports that Unibet, which may be in the ProTour next season, have their eye on Thomas Dekker. Jacques Hanegraaf, manager of Unibet, also looks after the interests of the Dutch cycling star. "His name has come up", confirms Koen Terryn, director of Unibet. "Dekker is possibly unhappy with Rabobank. But, honestly, we are also considering other leaders." Unibet presently has seven riders under contract, and fourteen others have signed a preliminary contract. That becomes official soon with the UCI. The team's search for a leader is continuing despite Unibet's Pro Tour hopes being a bit tenuous, as the current ban on the team in France has not been resolved.
"As far as captains are concerned, we are aiming at people who are dissatisfied with their current contract. Not ethical? That is possible at best. But what Rabobank has attempted is also not ethical. The Dutch team wants to pick up Laurens ten Dam, who has still a contract at Unibet." Koen Terryn will probably give up his young hope. "Keeping someone against his will makes no sense."
Milram denies interest in Ullrich
by Susan Westemeyer
Team Milram has denied reports that it is interested in signing Jan Ullrich. "We have no intention of recruiting Jan Ullrich.," said team manager Gianluigi Stanga Friday. "We're not in talks with him or his advisors. It's true our recruitment campaign is not over, but hiring Jan Ullrich is absolutely not part of our plans."
German media reports earlier in the week indicated that Milram, Discovery Channel and Astana were all interested in signing Ullrich, who was fired earlier in the season by T-Mobile Team over his involvement in the Operation Puerto doping scandal.
New Rabobank contracts for Brown, Horrillo and Niermann
General director Theo de Rooij of the Rabobank Cycling Teams has reached verbal agreements over new contracts with Graeme Brown, Pedro Horrillo Muñoz and Grischa Niermann. All three will sign a contract that will keep them with the Rabobank ProTeam for one more year.
Australian sprinter Graeme Brown joined the Rabobank Cycling Team in 2006. The winner of two Olympic gold medals in Athens, Greece, won three races this year: two stages in the Tour of Germany and the Tour De Rijke. Pedro Horrillo signed on for his third season with Rabobank. The Spanish rider won a stage in Vuelta a Catalunya and the Sachsen Tour International. German Grischa Niermann, starting his ninth season with the squad, has represented Rabobank six times in the Tour de France, four times in the Vuelta a España and two times in the Giro d’Italia, and racked up eleven victories.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)