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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for April 5, 2007

Edited by Sue George

ProTour teams commit to DNA testing option

The UCI announced Wednesday that all 20 ProTour teams and all but a few of those teams' riders will participate in DNA profiling in an effort to address doping allegations. UCI President Pat McQuaid told the Associated Press (AP) that the agreement "gives us an important tool to work with".

On Tuesday it was revealed that DNA in a saliva sample from 1997 Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich was matched with that in blood bags labelled with the names "Jan," "number 1" or "Hijo Rudicio" ('son of Rudy') seized in the Operación Puerto investigation. Despite the recent evidence, Ullrich and his attorneys have maintained his innocence, denying any involvement in a blood doping program.

Per the agreement, riders would not put their DNA in a bank; instead they commit to do so if involved in a doping investigation that requires such evidence. In theory, the DNA information could enable riders to prove their innocence.

Speaking about the new measures, Gerrit Middag, general manager of the International Professional Cycling Teams (IPCT), told the AP, "It gives the right signal. In the long term, it will prove its value."

The half-dozen riders who have not committed to DNA profiling remain anonymous and currently do not face an official deadline to adhere to the new measures. However, at the launch of its new anti-doping initiative in March, the UCI announced that 100% of ProTour riders would commit to DNA testing, although it remains to be seen whether the new measures can be backdated to force ProTour riders implicated in Operación Puerto to provide DNA samples.

Although the Spanish courts have shelved the investigation, McQuaid has said the UCI will continue to address the Operación Puerto case. "We want to get all the truth out," he said.

Tour de Georgia signs AT&T as major new sponsor

The peloton
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

With less than two weeks until the start of the fifth annual Tour de Georgia, the state's Governor, Sonny Perdue, announced Wednesday that telecommunications giant AT&T will sign on as a major sponsor for the April 16-22 race. The company will contribute US$500,000.

"It is an honour to make this contribution to the Tour de Georgia," said Sylvia Anderson, president of AT&T Georgia. "AT&T is committed to the state of Georgia and our communities. I believe this event will further showcase to the rest of the world our great state, our people and our culture. I want to thank Governor Perdue and the General Assembly for their leadership and commitment to economic development and tourism, (to) which this great event will certainly contribute."

"I am very pleased that our newest corporate citizen is continuing the long legacy of civic participation established by BellSouth and Cingular Wireless," said Perdue. "I have met with representatives from the new AT&T and remain convinced the company will continue to have a tremendous impact on our state's economy for decades to come."

The Tour of Georgia was short on money ever since former title sponsor, Ford Dealers of Georgia, terminated race sponsorship last summer. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Georgia House had included US$1 million for the race in a proposed budget for one-time funding to support the event, but state senators "balked and the item didn't appear in the version of the budget approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee last week." A final budget is in negotiation in conference committee, so the additional funding's fate remains uncertain.

Organisers estimate that since 2003, the Tour de Georgia has drawn 2.3 million spectators and generated a direct economic impact to the Georgia economy totaling $121 million. In 2006, the Tour generated a direct economic impact of $26 million to the state's economy.

2007 marks the first year the 2.HC ranked event will run for seven days instead of the usual six. As such, it will cover more distance than before: 1073 kilometres (667 miles).

McEwen out of Flanders, Hoste feeling better

The Predictor-Lotto boys
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

The Predictor-Lotto team had good and bad news on Wednesday about their team leaders. The bad news came from Robbie McEwen who had to cancel his final training ride on the Tour of Flanders course and will not take the start on Sunday. The Australian sprinter tested his legs on Tuesday along the course of the Three Days of De Panne, but on Wednesday he woke up with gastroenteritis. It's another setback for McEwen who was bothered with back problems after crashes in Tirreno-Adriatico and in Milano-Sanremo.

The good news came from Leif Hoste, the Belgian team leader from Predictor-Lotto for the Spring Classics. "Besides Hoste there is no team leader," said team manager Marc Sergeant on Tuesday to Cyclingnews, "we hope he gets ready for the Tour of Flanders. If not, we (will) prepare him for Paris-Roubaix."

But after Wednesday's stage, Cyclingnews had a quick chat with the Belgian, and his expression said it all. "I'm feeling better, much better," Hoste confirmed. "From bad to super, it's impossible in a few days. Coming over to the Three Days of De Panne was playing all or nothing, but it looks like it was the best decision."

Bennati's fifth victory preps him for Flanders

Winner Daniele Bennati
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
(Click for larger image)

Lampre's Daniele Bennati took his fifth victory of the season today in the 227km Stage 2 of the Three Days of De Panne from Zottegem to Koksijde. A strong final sprint into the wind from Bennati placed him ahead of Graeme Brown (Rabobank) and Tomas Vaitkus (Discovery Channel).

"Yesterday it was obvious that Ballan was going really strong. I felt great as well, but I was back in the second group," Bennati said on TV after the stage. "I feel that my form is getting better after a bad period. After Paris-Nice I had a bit of the flu. Now I hope to be fine for the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Gent-Wevelgem."

"Today was not easy; never is a sprint easy!" he continued. "Today, there was a headwind and our team had already really pulled hard to pull back the early escape to keep [teammate Alessandro] Ballan up in the classification, so there was not much left for the sprint, but I did well."

"I hope to go well for the Ronde van Vlaanderen, but I am not at 100%...I would say at 90%. I hope to be up front." When asked to pick favourites, he suggested Tom Boonen (Quickstep-Innergetic), Ballan and Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas).

Hard times for DFL-Cyclingnews

By Brecht Decaluwé in Koksijde

At the finish of stage 2 in the Three Days of De Panne, Cyclingnews talked with Nico Mattan, team leader of the DFL-Cyclingnews team. So far, the team has failed to come up with good results despite being invited to many big races.

Nico Mattan
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

In Wednesday's stage 2, the team was only mentioned on the race radio with a huge "chasse-patat" (meaningless pursuit) by Rhys Pollock. The 27 year-old Australian from Albury rode about 90km on his own between the leaders and the peloton, but his charge came to an end with 40km to go.

"They're all positive and they're trying the best they can but it's hard to fight the big teams," Mattan said. "Rhys probably started his attack a little late today but at least he tries."

We wonder when we will see the experienced Belgian in the frontline, but Mattan played down high expectations. "It's clear the sprinters' teams are in control over here, so for me it's useless to try, tomorrow morning will be just the same," Mattan said.

In the afternoon, there is a short 11km time trial where we might expect the flamboyant Belgian near the front; Mattan won the race back in 2001 and he has always done well in the short time trial. "Things changed of course but it should be possible to earn a top 10 spot," Mattan concluded optimistically.

Ullrich's former team "disappointed" by DNA news

Jan Ullrich
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

German team T-Mobile have reacted to the DNA test news confirming bags of blood seized as part of Operación Puerto were from their former team leader Jan Ullrich.

"I'm disappointed that Jan has to finish his career in this way but unfortunately not surprised," said T-Mobile spokesman Christian Frommert to news channel N24. "When we decided to pull Jan Ullrich from the team for the 2006 Tour de France, he insisted that contrary to elements which were available to us that he had never been in contact with Fuentes. Information from prosecutors in Bonn proves the contrary."

Frommert requested that authorities test other riders whose names have surfaced in connection with the scandal. "The case of Ullrich proves that DNA comparisons are worth it," Frommert said. Other riders could include the likes of Ivan Basso, whose name came up in Operación Puerto, although he was cleared to race by Italian authorities. CSC released Basso, who now races for Discovery Channel.

Ullrich has consistently denied using any banned substances. After not finding a team for 2007, the 1997 Tour de France winner announced his retirement on February 26.

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

Rojas back in action for Flanders

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Jose Joaquin Rojas (Caisse d'Epargne)
Photo ©: Caisse d'Epargne
(Click for larger image)

Promising young Spaniard Jose Joaquin Rojas from Caisse d'Epargne, who was injured after being hit by a car in March, has received medical discharge and will return to the competition on Sunday in the Ronde van Vlaanderen, where he will be joined by his compatriot and teammate, Luis Leon Sanchez.

Rojas hopes to be fighting for victory in a classic soon. He might also do Paris-Roubaix, but he said to Cyclingnews that it "depends on how I feel in the Tour of Flanders." If everything goes well, Rojas will also participate in the Amstel Gold Race and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

Rojas does not know which races he will contest later in the season. "Everything depends on my state of form and sensations." In fact, he has been wearing an orthopedic lumbar wrap as a consequence of the accident he suffered, which broke two vertebrae and also injured a rib.

"On the bicycle, due to the more or less static position, I do not feel any particular annoyances, only when I turn myself, either seated or, towards (the) right or left. But that is an unequivocal and encouraging sign that my recovery is a reality," he said.

As much Rojas and Sanchez already know the great classic races due to their previous tenure on teams under director Manolo Sáiz, they are not feeling pressured.

"I continue ... a learning phase. It does not make sense to go there thinking of the victory, because you must be prepared for it beforehand. It is necessary to bring together an extraordinary physical and mental strength as well as have an innate inner strength," said Luis Leon Sanchez said to Cyclingnews.

Teams announce Flanders lineups

Rabobank have announced their eight-man lineup for Sunday's Ronde van Vlaanderen. Milan-San Remo winner Oscar Freire will be backed up by Michael Boogerd, Juan Antonio Flecha, Joost Posthuma, Jan Boven, Léon Van Bon, Gerben Löwik, and Mathew Hayman. Pedro Horrillo and Rick Flens are on the reserve list. Of the group, Van Bon is the most experienced; he will start on Sunday for the tenth time.

Gerolsteiner have also released their lineup: Oscar Gatto, Heinrich Haussler, David Kopp, Sven Kraus, Sebastian Lang, Tom Stamsnijder, Marcel Strauss, and Fabian Wegmann.

Teams set for GP Miguel Indurain

Several teams have released their rosters for the 9th running of the Spanish one-day event, GP Miguel Indurain. The race has been elevated to 1.HC classification this season, it was previously classified 1.1. (See: UCI codes explanation)

Caisse d'Epargne: David Arroyo, Pablo Lastras, Alberto Losada, Oscar Pereiro, Vladimir Karpets, Francisco Pérez, Joaquím Rodríguez, Alejandro Valverde, Constantino Zaballa and Xabier Zandio.

Gerolsteiner: Tim Klinger, Bernhard Kohl, Davide Rebellin, Matthias Ruß, Ronny Scholz, Stefan Schumacher, Oliver Zaugg, and Beat Zberg .

Team Milram: Igor Astarloa, Mirko Celestino, Sergio Ghisalberti, Carlo Scognamiglio, Sebastian Schwager, Andriy Grivko, Matej Jurco, and Björn Schröder

Nicolas Mateos: Gorka Amuriza, José Antonio Baños, Pablo de Pedro, Javier Echarri, Beñat Intxausti, Diego Milán, Egoitz Murgoitio, Miguel Ochoa, Vicente Peiró, and Eloy Teruel

Nardello withdraws due to illness

Daniele Nardello became the second Team LPR rider, along with Walter Proche, to forfeit competition this week due to illness. He did not start the Settimana Lombarda and was replaced by Alberto Tiberio who joined his teammates Paolo Bailetti, Borut Bozic, Riccardo Chiarini, Andreas Dietziker, Raffaele Ferrara, Ignacio Gutierrez, and Nazareno Rossi.

First-ever collegiate all star women's team for Nature Valley GP

Top female collegiate cyclists will come together from universities across the US to compete as a part of the first-ever Ryan Collegiate All-Star team at the Nature Valley Grand Prix in Minnesota from June 20 - 24 thanks to a partnership between race organizers and USA Cycling.

The team will be sponsored by Ryan Companies, a development and construction company. Members will be selected at the USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships held May 10 - 13 in Lawrence, Kansas. Based on the final omnium standings, the four division one and four division two riders, each from a different collegiate team, who are not already attending the race as part of another team, will comprise the squad.

"Each rider will be allowed to race in her own collegiate club jersey presenting a unique opportunity for college and university clubs to gain remarkable exposure," said Daniel Matheny, USA Cycling's National Collegiate Manager. "It will also be a tremendous opportunity for talented collegiate riders to gain experience and respect on a national level and for fans to line the streets and cheer on their alma maters."

The selection honours for the NRC stage race come with a free entry, host housing, a team manager, an operating budget, clothing, and a travel stipend.

"This isn't just an honour for the best collegiate women cyclists," added Matheny. "The team managers will be watching and collegiate women who ride well have a great shot at national recognition."

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