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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for April 12, 2007

Edited by Hedwig Kröner, with assistance of Susan Westemeyer

McQuaid: UCI will take legal action

By Brecht Decaluwé in Deinze, Belgium - just what exactly is happening to this team?
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image) gained their ProTour license, but their bid to start many of the ProTour events has been stymied by staunch opposition from the Amaury Sport Organisation, RCS Sport and Unipublic, the organisers of the Grand Tours and many other ProTour events, including Paris-Roubaix. After being denied a start in Paris-Nice, the organisers and the UCI supposedly came to a compromise that would allow the team consideration for further events. However, they've been denied entry into Paris-Roubaix, and were left off the list of teams being considered for the Giro d'Italia. Cyclingnews' Brecht Decaluwé caught up with the UCI leaders in Deinze to talk about the situation. got a late start to the ProTour season - their squad was left off the start lists for Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico, which meant the team lost valuable opportunities to accumulate points toward the series standings. They then went on to start Milan-Sanremo, Ronde van Vlaanderen, and the Basque Tour, as well as fielding a strong team for Gent-Wevelgem. UCI president Pat McQuaid and ProTour manager Alain Rumpf were at the start of Gent-Wevelgem to throw their support behind the team. "From a legal point of view we haven't got many options, but from a supporting point of view there's a lot we can do so that's why we're here, to support the Unibet team and the ProTour," McQuaid said to Cyclingnews.

Much of the objection to the team centres around the legality of using the team to advertise their online gambling services in countries where such advertising is supposedly illegal. Belgium is no different, and before the race, rumours were flying that the Swedish registered team would not be allowed to start in the semi-classic because of the legal situation of its sponsor in Belgium.

Click here to read the full feature.

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split

October 4, 2008 - New ASO chief to maintain values
September 26, 2008 - UCI declares peace, appoints new VP
August 30, 2008 - UCI re-signs five ProTour races
August 22, 2008 - ProTour: Bouncing back or lame duck?
August 19, 2008 - Stapleton analyses 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - Feedback on 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - UCI announces 'world calendar'

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split

Kemmelberg again centre of polemic

The crash on the Kemmel
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

After two substantial crashes took out 13 riders of Wednesday's Gent-Wevelgem, sending seven of them to hospital with broken bones and many bruises, the Belgian cycling scene is again discussing the inclusion of the culprit of the crash in the parcours of the semi-classic: the Kemmelberg. The latter is an 800m cobbled climb, averaging 9 percent, with the steepest section being 21.5 percent.

Often on the cobbled descent, water bottles will get jarred loose, and that is what happened again yesterday - causing the crashes. Tom Boonen commented dryly, "Actually, you can ride over the bidons normally. The only thing you shouldn't do is brake because there's something in front of your wheel, because then you somersault over the handlebars."

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Oscar Freire, who finished third behind Marcus Burghardt and Roger Hammond (T-Mobile) in Wevelgem, didn't know how the second crash happened, as he was in front of the race at the time. "It's a dangerous part, maybe we need some more climbs before the hill," he said. "There are more crashes than before as there is less difference between the riders. That's why everybody tries to be in front," Freire explained and offered a suggestion to the UCI and race organisers: "It's not normal that we ride here with 200 riders, it's better with maybe around 120 riders."

But UCI president Pat McQuaid didn't agree. "Danger is part of the cycling sport," he told Sportwereld. "You can only try to minimise the risks." Still, the Irishman didn't want to hear of any suggestions to scrap the famous 'Kemmel' off the parcours of the Belgian one-day race.

"What would then still remain of the course? Nothing!," he argued. "Or nearly nothing. I simply think that it would be unwise to change the character of a race. And to reduce the number of riders in the peloton is not a solution, either. They would fight for position anyway to be the first ones to tackle the descent."

Freire 'upset' after Gent-Wevelgem

Oscar Freire (Rabobank) wearing the ProTour jersey
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Rabobank's Oscar Freire may have been calm and gracious in praising Marcus Burghardt's victory over him in Gent-Wevelgem, but he is also "a great actor, besides being a great sportsman," according to his team Rabobank.

"I went to the doping test with Oscar," said directeur sportif Erik Dekker. "I have never seen him as upset. It was actually touching to see and it is also a confirmation that he is a very different sportsman than most fans think."

Even though Freire took the white jersey of leading ProTour rider, he was disappointed that he could not make his victory plans come true at the finish in Wevelgem. "He knows Ventoso very well and they had agreed to fight for the victory," Dekker continued. "But it was too late as he could not close the gap to Burghardt."

Dekker didn't know what the solution to the Kemmelberg problem was. "I find it hard to tell whether or not it should be in. The Kemmelberg was part of it thirty years ago, so nothing has really changed. And if water bottles cause crashes, it's the pack's fault as well. But to me it is incomprehensible and bizarre that this happened when it was not raining," the former pro added.

Hammond: Finally making the break

Roger Hammond (T-Mobile) takes second at Gent - Wevelgem
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

It's been a tough start to the 2007 season for Britain's Roger Hammond but the tables are starting to turn in his direction. Cyclingnews' Brecht Decaluwé caught up with the T-Mobile rider after his podium place at Gent-Wevelgem.

When Roger Hammond headed to Belgium last month he hoped for a few strong showings in the events preceding this weekend's Spring Classic Paris-Roubaix race. Instead, the T-Mobile rider's best result was at the Dwars door Vlaanderen where he came home 15th in a large lead bunch. Hammond's next best result was 26th at the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen a few days later, which was followed by a 39th at De Panne-Koksijde and an abandonment at last weekend's Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders).

At that point Hammond's lead up to his beloved Paris-Roubaix was looking less than impressive. That was until yesterday, when Hammond charged home at Gent-Wevelgem in second place behind teammate Marcus Burghardt.

"You know I don't like it the easy way," joked Hammond at the finish. "All year long I have been trying to get into breakaways and this time I made it. When we were up there we waited for the cavalry to come - Quick.Step that is - but nobody came."

Hammond was off the front, in the lead bunch with Christophe Mengin (Française des Jeux), Oscar Freire Gomez (Rabobank), Francisco Ventoso (Saunier Duval-Prodir) and Florent Brard (Caisse d'Epargne). Eventual winner Burghardt bridged to the break a little later in the race.

Click here to read the full feature.

Rabobank in Paris-Roubaix

Team leaders Frans Maassen and Adri van Houwelingen have selected eight riders for Paris-Roubaix, the famous ProTour Classic scheduled for coming Sunday. Maassen and Van Houwelingen will line up Juan Antonio Flecha, Max van Heeswijk, Léon van Bon, Pedro Horrillo, Jan Boven, Bram de Groot, Rick Flens and Dmitriy Kozontchuk.

Rabobank will have to do without Mathew Hayman. Yesterday, the Australian rider broke his elbow in Gent-Wevelgem.

Léon van Bon is the most experienced rider in Sunday's team roster. Van Bon will start in his 12th Paris-Roubaix. He was a top ten finisher four times in the event. Jan Boven, Pedro Horrillo and Max van Heeswijk all will start for their seventh time in the cobblestone Classic.

Juan Antonio Flecha carries the experience of three earlier editions of Paris-Roubaix. Last year, Flecha finished third behind Fabian Cancellara (CSC).

Dmitriy Kozontchuk, Bram de Groot and Rick Flens will get their first start in the 'Hell of the North'. Still, Kozontchuk is familiar with the finale of the race. In 2005, he won the Under 23 edition of Paris-Roubaix after a solo of 80 kilometres.

Landis' B samples to be tested

Floyd Landis on the Champs-Elysées podium - will he keep his title?
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

The panel hearing doping accusations against Tour de France winner Floyd Landis has granted a request made by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to have French lab Chatenay-Malabry test the 'B' urine samples taken during the race, even though the 'A' samples collected simultaneously tested negative.

Of the seven samples Landis gave during the Tour, only one came back with an elevated testosterone:epitestosterone ratio during the 'A' sample analysis, and only that one sample was subjected to carbon isotope testing to determine whether the source of the testosterone was not naturally made in his body. The 'IRMS' testing showed evidence of exogenous testosterone in Landis' sample, and now the US Anti-Doping Agency wants the rest of his 'B' samples subjected to the same analysis.

Of course, this analysis would not result in new doping charges for Landis, even if the tested 'B' samples came back positive. On the contrary, USADA hopes that the procedure will shed some light into the testing methods used at the Chatenay Malabry laboratory in Paris, where the initial adverse analytical finding was established. The Landis camp previously objected to the testing of the samples.

However, in the arbitrator's ruling, it is said that "further 'B' sample testing is not within the two sample protocol because the result does not lead to an adverse analytical finding. The argument of the Respondent [Landis - ed.] is one to put up a protective shield that would never permit anyone knowing what the 'B' tests might reveal. That is not a search for the truth or to understand all the facts involved in the matter."

Further, the panel argued that "in making the foregoing ruling, if the methodologies of the Lab are indeed flawed, as alleged by the Respondent, then, the appointment of an expert by the Panel to review the operation of the Lab’s IRMS and GC/MS equipment will provide the protection for the Athlete. The Panel’s expert will identify if there are flaws in the testing equipment. Therefore, the interests of the Athlete are protected in permitting an analysis of the 'B' samples through the role of the Panel’s expert. That expert will have determined if the methodologies are flawed."

Landis' hearing is scheduled to begin on May 14, 2007, in Malibu, California.

Cyclingnews' coverage of the Floyd Landis case

May 29, 2009 - French authorities summon Landis and Baker
September 28, 2008 - Landis takes case to US federal court
September 10, 2008 - Landis signing with current Health Net-Maxxis team for 2009
July 1, 2008 - CAS delivers final blow to Landis legal challenge
June 30, 2008 - Landis loses final appeal
June 28, 2008 - Landis decision due Monday
March 12, 2008 - Landis' judgment day nears
October 21, 2007 - Landis files appeal with CAS
October 18, 2007 - AFLD takes another look at Landis case
Thursday, October 11 - Landis continues fight, appeals to CAS
Saturday, September 22 - UCI officially names Pereiro 2006 Tour champion, Landis case raises issues
Friday, September 21 - Landis' appeal denied, two year suspension levied

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of the Floyd Landis case

Milram baby

Milram's Sebastian Siedler's lifetime dream was to ride Paris-Roubaix, but he voluntarily decided not ride the race this year, and the team approved his decision to stay home. The reason? Daughter Pia, who was born Wednesday afternoon, a little earlier than expected. Mother and child are doing well.

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