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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for April 21, 2007

Edited by Laura Weislo with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

UCI begins legal action against ASO

By Laura Weislo

Pat McQuaid
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

The International Cycling Union (UCI) has followed through with its promise to pursue legal action along with the team against the Amaury Sport Organisation, which has denied the team entry into the upcoming ProTour Ardennes Classics races, La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The case will be decided by a court in Brussels ahead of next Wednesday's La Flèche Wallonne.

UCI president Pat McQuaid was present at last week's Gent-Wevelgem to support the Unibet team, and told Cyclingnews then that the UCI was "looking into the possibilities of taking legal action against ASO and RCS [Sport]."

Both La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège are organised by the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), which also runs the Tour de France. Together with Giro d'Italia organiser RCS Sport and Vuelta a España organiser Unipublic, the ASO has repeatedly stated their assertion that they only recognise the 18 ProTour teams that existed at the start of December, 2006. The ASO announced the teams for its two Ardennes Classics earlier this month, and true to form, was not among the invitees or wildcards, and RCS Sport excluded from Tirreno-Adriatico and the Giro d'Italia, but granted them a wildcard for Milan-Sanremo.

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The snub of for the Ardennes Classics follows a long-running battle between the Grand Tours and UCI, and recently has been on the receiving end of the majority of the fallout. The exclusion of from Paris-Nice nearly brought the 2007 ProTour to a halt, when the ASO threatened to run the race as a National Event outside of the UCI's control, and the UCI responded by threatening sanctions to any ProTour team that participated. Eventually, all sides came together to agree on a compromise - an agreement which the ASO now appears to be backing away from.

Baden Cooke ( without question
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The name has caused controversy not just as a pawn being played in the ASO and UCI power struggle, but also as a company involved in the contentious issue of online gambling. Several European Union countries, including France and Belgium which have national lotteries that hold monopolies on gambling in those countries, are fighting against the legality of online gaming companies. Recently, the Belgian Gaming Commission declared that " is illegal" and that "organisers allowing's cycling team to compete would expose themselves to substantial fines, even prison sentences up to three years."

Assertions such as these help the ASO justify its refusal to allow into their races. In the UCI/Grand Tour 'peace deal', consideration of as a wildcard was bound to the caveat that "such decisions are not likely to expose or be likely to expose the organisers to legal consequences, of whatever nature they might be." CEO Petter Nylander challenged the statements of the Belgian Gaming Commission in a letter, arguing, "If this reasoning would be correct, quod non, could one imagine that the team Predictor-Lotto would be subject to the same treatment as Unibet when competing outside Belgium?" Nylander also pointed out that until the team went ProTour, they hadn't run into any of these issues, "Over the past years, our sponsorship and commitment to a Belgium-based cycling team has never caused any problem or discussion."

The application of the restrictions against promotion of gambling in Belgium and France have been brought up with the European Commission, which recognised an inherent discrimination in the way the laws were being applied only to private gaming companies (such as whilst ignoring national lotteries (such as the Belgian Lotto, and French Française des Jeux), and that this discrimination was unlawful in the European Union.

Nylander asserted in the letter that, "Organisers of races cannot be accused of aiding and abetting Unibet. They simply want to organise a cycling competition... not to organise Unibet advertising as such [emphasis in original -ed]. Even if European law would allow the imposition of criminal sanctions, it is obvious that organisers do not have the [necessary] intent to help or facilitate brand exposure."

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

Rabobank looking to Kroon and Gilbert?

By Susan Westemeyer

Karsten Kroon (CSC).
Photo ©: Bert Geerts
(Click for larger image)
Rabobank's captain Michael Boogerd announced this week that he is hanging it up the end of this season, and the team has already started its search for his replacement. And according to various Benelux newspapers, they have found that replacement -- or more than one.

According to de Telegraaf, the next Rabobank captain will be Karsten Kroon, currently under contract to CSC. "That's not so crazy," said Rabo team manager Erik Breukink. "Boogerd is a rider who you can't simply replace. However, we have a new young generation of Dutch riders. And if you're talking about the better Classics riders, then you're talking about Kroon."

Breukink was equally complimentary about Philippe Gilbert of Française des Jeux, says La Dernière Heure. "Rabobank wants Gilbert. We already tested the waters with him three years ago. [FdJ team manager] Madiot is not crazy, he knows what is in store," the paper quotes Breukink as saying. "But it is clear that a rider like Gilbert interests us, especially as a future prospect."

Philippe Gilbert
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)
He praised Gilbert's stage win in the Dauphine, and added that, "Like Boogerd, he is incredibly motivated, but he is also a fast sprinter. He can easily win out of a small group. And his mentality is excellent!"

"It obviously gives me pleasure to hear that people like Breukink appreciate me," responded Gilbert. "And it is true that Rabo has approached me. Their structure is fantastic and their team is solid, with experienced people. To go to Rabobank, which is sponsored by a solid bank with much means, would constitute another approach to cycling for me. Having said that, I have a contract with Madiot through 2008. Next year at this time is the time to negotiate."

T-Mobile's success "the result of hard work"

This was Rolf Aldag's last race...
Photo ©: Régis Garnier
Click for larger image
Rolf Aldag is satisfied with the start of T-Mobile's season, saying "The guys have shown real class. The success is not a coincidence. It is the result of hard work."

In an interview on the team's website,, he said that the team is based on mutual trust and respect, and cited Marcus Burghardt's win at Gent-Wevelgem as an example. "We put together a racing program that fit all his wishes and expectations. We could very well have used him at Milano-Sanremo, but before the Flemish Classics, Marcus wanted to have a training session with his trainer, Thomas Schediwe. We accepted that, and it paid off. "

"Marcus used all his possibilities to be successful. When you see how committed the guys are, then you know you aren't wrong with your concept," Aldag said.

Burghardt's win "came at the right time. It took a little pressure off the team." He explained, "When you are dropped by the peloton four times, that hurts, but isn't so bad. But when you just barely miss the win four times, at some point that sets itself in your head and you cramp. When you see that it works, then you are ready to give everything.

While T-Mobile's Classics riders and sprinters have done well, the stage race riders are lagging a bit behind. "The results aren't so good there. But we won't make any stress or go into a panic." There have been some successes, he noted, such as Kim Kirchen's second place overall finish in Tirreno-Adriatico.

Like many other teams, T-Mobile has been hit by injuries and illnesses, which not only knock the riders out of the races, but continue to affect them. "Many riders in the stage races are just coming back from illness or injuries, you can't expect to much from them. I don't want to put these riders under any pressure, then they'll never get well."

Looking back at his first few months as director sportif, the former rider said, "It was a very exciting time, in which I learned a lot and continue to learn. That never stops."

Bad breaks for Coyot, Hinault

Frenchman Arnaud Coyot (, who crashed during GP de Denain has been diagnosed with a broken left wrist, according to the team's website.

"I crashed at 700 metres from the finish line in GP de Denain", said Arnaud Coyot. "I hope I can get an operation in Lille today so I can return to competition as soon as possible. Otherwise, I think I will be out for four weeks."

Baden Cooke and Markus Eichler were involved in the same crash as Coyot, but got away with relatively light injuries.

Another Frenchman suffered a broken bone in the same event. According to AFP, Sébastien Hinault (Credit Agricole) complained of intense pain following his crash in the GP Denain, and was diagnosed with a fractured L3 vertebra. Hinault will be out of competition for a minimum of four weeks.

Rumours of Backstedt's retirement premature

Magnus Backstedt (Liquigas)
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

Following a solid performance in last week's Paris Roubaix, where he was in the main chase group with winner Stuart O'Grady until a mechanical knocked him out of contention, Magnus Backstedt has found himself having to deny rumours of his imminent retirement. "Lots of rumours started appearing in the French media last Saturday regarding my alleged retirement from the sport. Maybe they were confusing me with Lars Michaelsen who did retire on Sunday, but it is not true"

Backstedt fought his way back from a severe shoulder separation which required surgery, then more surgery to remove the hardware which was limiting his mobility, but despite having raced a limited number of races, Backstedt remains optimistic about his season. "Yes, to go through what I have in the last year there is no way I would even remotely consider retiring now. I'm more fired up than ever!

"My speciality is the Classics, and I believe I can carry on for many years to come. Maybe the 2012 Olympics in London would be a nice point to stop" he concluded.

Amstel line-up changes

Kopp succumbs to bug

The intestinal infection that is sweeping the peloton has hit Gerolsteiner's David Kopp and knocked him out of Sunday's Amstel Gold Race, the team announced Friday afternoon. His place will be taken by Sven Krauss. Kopp hopes to be well enough to ride the Flèche Wallonne next Wednesday.

Pérez will be replaced by Reynés

By Antonio J. Salmerón

A late decision was made by Caisse d'Epargne director, Eusebio Unzúe, to replace Francisco Pérez with Vincent Reynés for the upcoming Classics, the Amstel Gold Race on Sunday and La Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday.

"It was an option which was put forth after we finished the Vuelta al País Vasco, when I expressed to Eusebio Unzúe that I preferred to dispute the overall classification of the Tour de Romandie. I would arrive more rested if I did not participate in the Classics," Pérez explained to Cyclingnews.

Pérez will still take part in Liège-Bastogne-Liège on April 29, and following that race, he will fly to the Tour de Romandie.

Wiesenhof confident for Amstel

Wesemann in Paris-Roubaix
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)
Team Wiesenhof-Felt has received one of the wildcard invitations to the Amstel Gold Race this weekend,and it intends to make the most of its chance. Team captain Steffen Wesemann, who finished third in Paris-Roubaix and second in Amstel last year is confident.

'"The Amstel Gold Race has an absolutely unique character, totally different from, for example, Paris-Roubaix," he said, "but depending on how the race develops and with a little luck, a surprise is also possible here. My form is 100 percent, and I will surely not settle for just a good result."

His team manager Jens Heppner noted that, "We have a great mood in the team and so far we have managed, through our solidarity and great morale, to achieve some successes. I think that on Sunday we will be able to build on our previous performance and as a team draw attention to ourselves."

Wiesenhof-Felt for Amstel Gold Race: Steffen Wesemann, Peter Velits, Martin Velits, Jörg Ludewig, Torsten Schmidt, Felix Odebrecht, Daniel Musiol and Robert Wagner.

Barloworld for Italy

Team Barloworld is warming up for its appearances in the last two Ardennes Classics by taking in two races in Italy. It will be sending teams to the Giro d'Oro on Sunday, and following that up with the Giro del Trentino stage race from April 24 to 27.

Barloworld for Giro d'Oro: John-Lee Augustyn, Gianpaolo Cheula, Enrico Degano, Robert Hunter, James Perry, Mauricio Soler and champion Geraint Thomas.

Barloworld for Giro del Trentino: John-Lee Augustyn, Enrico Degano, Fabrizieo Guidi, Robert Hunter, James Perry, Mauricio Soler and Geraint Thomas.

Triple Crown highlights women's racing

The Commerce Bank 'Triple Crown of Cycling' will return to the cities of Lancaster and Reading for the second year of the series. Held in conjunction with the UCI men's races, the two towns will host fast-paced criteriums set in historic downtown neighbourhoods as part of the women's series. The action then moves to the grand finale, the Commerce Bank Liberty Classic, in Philadelphia on June 10th.

The women will 'warm up' the crowds, and will be inspired by the $2000 prize purse to race aggressively on the spectator friendly courses which will use the same start/finish line as the Pro Men’s races that follow. Last year, Ina Teutenberg took home the $5,000 purse for the series after winning the two criteriums and taking second to Regina Schleicher in Philadelphia.

Teams interested in competing in the Pro Women’s races in Lancaster, Reading and Philadelphia should contact technical director Drew Cunningham at

For more information about the Commerce Bank Triple Crown of Cycling log on to

First Fantasy Spring Classics Winners Confirmed!

The highest scoring Fantasy team in each classic
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

The first four winning Fantasy Managers of the Spring Classics Game have been confirmed. They each win a pair of BBB's Winner Team glasses for having the individually highest scoring teams in each of the four classics - Milan-San Remo, Ronde van Vlaanderen, Gent Wevelgem, and Paris-Roubaix. The Winner Team glasses are the official sports glasses of the Quick-Step Innergetic professional cycling team 2007. The winning managers and team names are:

Milan-San Remo - Manager: Eufemiano´s syringes; Team: Riis the master04
Ronde van Vlaanderen - Manager: Topper; Team East Cleveland
Gent Wevelgem - Manager: Bob's Friend; Team: t4
Paris Roubaix - Manager: Dr. Do Little; Team: Grinders

With a Specialized S-Works Roubaix bicycle up for grabs
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

There's still time to win a pair of glasses yourself, so enter your teams now! Remember you don't need to have competed in all the previous races to stand a chance of winning a Per Classic prize. You can just play for one race to win a pair of BBB's glasses. There are three races left to compete in this month.

The provisional rider-list for the Amstel Gold race has been updated with the latest entries. Remember to pick your teams before Sunday's race! We will update this list further once the official final list has been announced by the race organisers. The Amstel Gold race this Sunday marks the fifth of the Fantasy Spring Classics games on offer this year. All you need to do to take part is register and select eight riders before the live race starts on Sunday.

Why should you play this year? - You can win a Specialized S-Works Roubaix bicycle in Quick Step - Innergetic colours equipped with

Shimano Dura-Ace components and S-Works FACT oversized carbon crank and bottom bracket worth $6000 USD! That's not all you could win in this year's Fantasy games. To celebrate our fifth year of Fantasy games the Spring Classics will also be featuring some top runners-up prizes.

Giro d'Italia Fantasy Prizes Confirmed

Speedplay is back behind the fantasy game
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

Once the Spring Classics are out of the way at the end of April, we will be opening up the game system for the fifth year of Fantasy Giro d'Italia here at Cyclingnews. We are currently finalising the list of prizes on offer for this year's game. We are delighted to announce that Hed, Zipp, Shimano, Giro, Tifosi, Nutrifig are just some of the brands that will be featuring in our prize list for the game this year.

The Grande Tours take the Fantasy Game model to the next stage. In the Grande Tours you'll have to manage your team on a daily basis selecting nine riders from your team of 15 every day for the whole three weeks of an individual tour.

With the introduction of General Classification, Mountains, and Sprints points the more involved game-play presents even more of a challenge than the Spring Classics games. If you haven't registered already you could be missing out on one of the best ways to follow the key races this season. You can play for free for the first few stages so you can get a feel for the game.

For more details on how to play go to the rules section of the site for more info. To register your teams for the game go to Fantasy Cyclingnews.

It's a great way to follow the key races this year!

Good luck!
The Fantasy Cyclingnews Team

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