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Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News for September 27, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

ProTour teams decide auto suspension

By Hedwig Kröner

Over the week-end in Salzburg, Austria, the International Professional Cycling Teams (IPCT) have met to discuss amendments to the Code of Ethics of the professional sport's top calendar, the ProTour. To contribute to the fight against doping on a greater scale, the UCI ProTeams represented by the new group created out of the AIGCP (association of professional cycling teams) are now committed to suspending the whole of their activities in case of two positive anti-doping results and/or abnormal blood controls over a period of 12 months.

As of the date of knowledge of the second positive control or pronounced unfitness to race, the concerned team will be suspended as a whole during eight days. However, the auto suspension will not be immediate (even if the doping offense breaks during a ProTour race), but begin on the first day of the next ProTour event, except for the three Grand Tours.

In case there are three positive anti-doping results and/or abnormal blood controls (over a period of 24 months), the auto suspension will cover a period of four weeks, and include the three Grand Tours.

The question of whether or not the events of the three Grand Tour organisers will still be included in the series next year is not clear at this time. In a letter dated September 12, Tour de France organiser ASO asked the UCI to put these races on a separate calendar, but the World governing body of cycling refused, and announced that it would submit the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

On the fourth positive test result and/or declared unfitness to race for a rider, the new regulations, still to be approved by the UCI ProTour council, foresee the withdrawal of the ProTour license of the team implicated in the affairs.

Furthermore, a number of other proposals have been made to the UCI, which will tighten the grip on the professional riders. The IPCT has asked the UCI to discuss the creation of a DNA data base of all professional riders, to increase and improve out-of-competition controls and to limit the number of 'therapeutic use exemptions' (TUE), allowing riders to use certain prohibited drugs to treat illnesses. It also asked to "prohibit TUE's of kindness", and to limit the infiltrations of anti-inflammatory corticosteroids to a maximum of two per year.

In addition, the pressure on the riders will be increased on a legal level. The ProTour teams are committed to integrate a clause for DNA research in the riders contracts, allowing them to ask for a gene sample at their request if the rider is implicated in a legal investigation. The new contracts will also include a clause on the possibility of lawsuit in case of a doping affair, which would affect the image of the team and therefore possibly result in the payment of damages.

T-Mobile announces roster & anti-doping plan

German T-Mobile team has announced its long-awaited roster for next year, as well as the details of its anti-doping measures, with which the squad hopes to regain its credibility in Germany. As regards the development of the new squad after Operation Puerto decimated both its roster and management eight weeks ago, the new general manager Bob Stapleton said, "We packed eight months worth of work into just two," calling the task "somewhat of a challenge."

Stapleton and former rider Rolf Aldag, now head of sport management, will be supported a largely new international team of sport directors, including Brian Holm (Denmark), Allan Peiper (Australia), Tristan Hoffman (Netherlands), and Valerio Piva (Italy). Completing the management team are Luuc Eisenga (Netherlands), who will be the technical director and team liaison and Bruce Carmedelle (USA), business manager.

In building the foundation of a "team for the future", Aldag stressed the importance of the riders’ strength of character as well as their athletic potential. "We need riders with a good heart, a good head and good legs who will work well together as a team", said Aldag, announcing the addition of eleven new riders to the team:

Joining the squad for 2007 are Michael Barry (30/Canada), Mark Cavendish (21/Great Britain), Gerald Ciolek (20/Germany), Bernhard Eisel (25/Austria), Bert Grabsch (30/Germany), Roger Hammond (31/Great Britain), Servais Knaven (35/Netherlands), Axel Merckx (34/Belgium), Aaron Olsen (28/USA), Jacob Piil (33/Denmark) and Marco Pinotti (30/Italy).

Alongside Australian Michael Rogers, who will be the team's future captain and GC rider, the team management is keeping the following riders: Eric Baumann (26/Germany), Lorenzo Bernucci (27/Italy), Scott Davis (27/Australia), Linus Gerdemann (24/Germany), André Greipel (24/Germany), Giuseppe Guerini (36/Italy), Serguei Gonchar (36/Ukraine), Kim Kirchen (28/Luxembourg), Andreas Klier (30), André Korff (33/Germany), Frantisek Rabon, (23/Czech Republic) Stephan Schreck (28/Germany), Patrik Sinkewitz (25/Germany) and Thomas Ziegler (25/Germany).

A full report on the new T-Mobile roster will follow.

Bigger problems for Hushovd?

Thor Hushovd's problems might be bigger than he would let on right after the world championships in Salzburg last Sunday, where he finished 114th. As his trainer Atle Kvålsvoll now revealed to the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten, Hushovd was suffering from severe cramps during the road race. The cramps, which apparently spread out even into his fingers, were serious enough for him to stop pedaling.

Reportedly, Hushovd has been dealing with these problems for a while, but so far, this season had been less troublesome for the Norwegian sprinter, after having consulted the nutritionists on the Norwegian Olympic team and strictly following their advice. Hushovd might now have to ask them for help again, as he is dreaming of playing a bigger role in the spring classics next season.

Courtesy of Katharina Schulz

Gerolsteiner for Franco-Belge

German team Gerolsteiner is gearing up for its last stage race this season, the Circuit Franco-Belge in Northern France and Belgium. Starting Thursday, September 28, in Mabeuge, France, the 2.1 race will finish on Sunday, October 1 in Tournai, Belgium. "Our goal is a stage win," said team director Christian Wegmann, and has assembled a roster of two experienced, older riders to guide their younger colleagues at the event.

Frank Høj and Marcel Strauss will be the oldest pros in the Franco-Belge team, averaging 24.1 years of age. The full roster is: Thomas Fothen (23), stagiaire Johannes Fröhlinger (21), Heinrich Haussler (22), Frank Høj (33), stagiaire Niko Keinath (19), Sven Krauss (23), Matthias Russ (22) and Marcel Strauss (30).

Team director Wegmann expects Haussler and Krauss and to in contention for a stage win. "Heinrich got into form at the Vuelta, and Sven shaped up in Poland," he said. "One of them could be victorious out of a breakaway."

Petacchi ends season, nearly robbed, Cortinovis out of Franco-Belge

Team Milram had some unfortunate news on Wednesday. Petacchi, who broke his finger in the Vuelta a España, will not race again this year. Initially, the sprinter wanted to try for one more event (Paris-Tours) after a season ruined by injuries, but his hand has not healed yet. "He would have liked to prepare for Paris-Tours with a Belgian program," said Milram directeur sportif Vittorio Algeri. "But his medical condition doesn't permit this. The team management has decided that he will not race again this season. Alessandro will resume competition in the Ruta del Sol next year."

Moreover, Petacchi's house was nearly robbed this week. "Fortunately, the alarm went off and the thieves left," explained the sprinter, who at the time of the incident was dining out with his wife Chiara. "I received an alert on my mobile phone. I went straight back to my house but found nobody. In any case, we just moved in so the thieves wouldn't have found a lot." The Italian added that police officers in Lido di Camaiore intervened right away, currently investigating some suspects.

His teammate Alessandro Cortinovis was less fortunate as he will not be able to participate in the next-up stage race for Milram, because of a robbery. Flying into Brussels for the Circuit Franco-Belge, the rider recovered his suitcases in the airport, but they disappeared as the team assistants were loading the rider's belongings into the team van. As all of his documents were in one of the suitcases, Cortinovis saw no other solution than to take a flight straight back to Italy, as he could not have started in the race.

Lafis team director at Unibet

Michael Lafis will act as team director for Belgian squad Unibet as of next season. The Swede, a former professional himself, has found an agreement with team manager Koen Terry and sporting manager Jacques Hanegraaf on Tuesday, according to Belgian news agencies.

Lafis rode his last season as a pro in 2000, with Farm Frites, where he met Hanegraaf. "Jacques was the general manager of the team at the time," said Lafis, who was involved with a Swedish cycling magazine and the Tour of Sweden after he quit the sport. "I have enough experience as a rider to be able to help Unibet get some nice results."

Eddy Merckx at Oak Hill School benefit ride

Eddy Merckx, the king of modern day cycling is going to appear for a benefit ride in Marin County, just north of San Francisco on this coming Friday. The ride is to benefit a local school, Oak Hill School, which teaches children with learning disorders.

The ride, expected to attract over 100 of the local pool of riders, will start at the school, near Sausalito where the first stage of the Tour of California starts, then wind its way north to San Rafael and back to the starting point for a total of 37 miles.

For more information and to register, go to: www.zteamcycling.com

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