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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for August 1, 2007

Edited by Gregor Brown

Tragedy in South Africa as Ryan Cox passes away

By Susan Westemeyer and Shane Stokes

Ryan Cox in 2006
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
(Click for larger image)

South African cycling is in shock following the news that Team Barloworld's Ryan Cox died early Wednesday morning in Kempton Park hospital in Johannesburg. The 28 year-old rider had undergone an operation in France on July 4 to treat a blood flow problem but his condition deteriorated on Monday and he was taken from his home to hospital in a serious condition. His heart reportedly stopped beating due to a ruptured artery in his leg and although he received several transfusions to try to save his life, his condition continued to worsen. Doctors fought to save him but were ultimately unable to do so. He passed away at 5:15 am Wednesday morning.

The team had announced Monday that Cox had undergone emergency surgery to repair a bleeding artery.

His team-mate Robbie Hunter, who won a stage in the Tour de France, arrived home in South Africa Wednesday morning, and said that he was "devastated" to hear the news.

Cox was diagnosed in April with a vascular problem in his left leg, having had long-running symptoms of a loss of power during races and hard training. The condition is caused by a kinking of the artery and is known to occur amongst top-level cyclists. CSC rider Stuart O'Grady is one who was successfully treated in the past, returning to top fitness, and indeed it has been reported that the same French doctor carried out the procedure on Cox on July 4. It requires a period of rest in order to allow the area to heal fully.

Writing on his website after the operation, Cox said "The doctor is very, very happy with how the opp [operation] went and the artery is very straight now on the new x-rays. I'm feeling fine and able to walk slowly. A lot of swelling still but that's all normal."

Later, he wrote, "It has only been 12 days since I went under the knife to solve my prob's. Since then I have returned home and recovering well. The swelling has really gone down nicely now and am able to move around a bit quicker than last week. I'm taking things nice and slowly and being home around my family and friends is exactly what I need."

Cox was born and lived in Kempton Park, South Africa. He has long been recognised as one of the country's most talented riders and turned professional with the Amore e Vita – Beretta team in 2000. He spent two years with Team Cologne and then joined Barloworld in 2003, sharing the team's long term goal of riding the Tour de France. Although Barloworld achieved that target this year, having an excellent campaign thanks to stage wins by his compatriot Robert Hunter and the Colombian Mauricio Soler and also taking the KOM classification, Cox sadly missed out on the chance to be part of the team due to his injury.

He was a strong climber and time trialist and took several important results in the past. In 2003 he won a stage of the Circuit des Mines in France and then the following season won the Tour of Qinghai Lake, the South African road race title, a stage in the Giro del Capo and finished second in the Tour de Langkawi. 2005 saw him go one step higher in winning the Malaysian race, confirming his strong all-round ability. It was an excellent season for him; he also took the Genting Highlands stage there, defended his South African road championship title, won a stage at the Tour of Qinghai Lake, finished second in the Giro del Capo and second in both the UCI Africa and Asia Tours.

His hopes of building on that season with strong performances in European races was hampered when the blood flow problem began to affect his form. 2006 and 2007 were quieter years as a result, although he finished third overall in the 2006 Giro del Capo and fifth this season. He was hoping to return to full fitness and deliver on his potential on the big stage but sadly he will not now get to show his full potential.

We at Cyclingnews interviewed him several times (read: South Africa's next Tour rider? or Where I want to be) in the past and found him to be a very friendly, approachable rider. We would like to extent our full sympathies to Ryan's fiancee, family, friends and team-mates at this difficult time.

Messages of condolence can be sent to

T-Mobile's Mark Cavendish returns to action alongside young Brit Ian Stannard

Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile)
Photo ©:
(Click for larger image)

The post-Tour de France season begins for Germany-based team T-Mobile on Wednesday at the Tour of Denmark, where British rider Mark Cavendish will head the magenta squad at the five-day event (August 1 – 5). The 21 year-old will start alongside Great Britain teammate Ian Stannard who will race as a stagiaire.

Cavendish, in his first race back since ending his Tour de France adventure in the Alps, will be expected to make his top-end speed count in the sprints. "Mark gained valuable experience with the T-Mobile Team in France, and he is as enthusiastic as ever," commented Directeur Sportif Rolf Aldag. "I expect him to be in the mix in the sprint showdowns that should conclude many of the six stages."

Cavendish can count on the support of lead-out man Greg Henderson in the sprint finales and his team-mates Lorenzo Bernucci and Marco Pinotti will be hoping to get into the decisive breaks early on in the race. The T-Mobile Team is also hoping to see 20 year-old Brit Ian Stannard make his mark. Stannard, a sprinter who was part of the T-Mobile Development Programme with Cavendish in 2005 and 2006, will now get his chance to make the step up to the professional grade.

"It's a big test for Ian, and I am looking forward to seeing how he fares against this competition," said Aldag.

Rounding out the eight-man roster in Denmark are Servais Knaven, Aaron Olson and Frantisek Rabon.

Brother versus brother, final update

By Susan Westemeyer

The Tour de France drew to a close on Sunday in Paris, won by Spaniard Alberto Contador, with only one pair of bothers finishing form French brothers Chavanel and German Brothers Grabsch.

Sylvain Chavanel's Tour came to an abrupt end last week as his whole team was pulled out of the race, but the German Grabsch brothers continued their duel until the end.

Sylvain Chavanel had moved himself up to 26th overall when Team Cofidis withdrew from the Tour following Cristian Moreni's positive doping result. Brother Sébastien was in 141st overall, and by the end of the Tour had managed to move himself up to 130th.

The Grabsch brothers Bert (T-Mobile) and Ralf (Milram) were close in the classification until the last time trial on Saturday. Bert, who is national time trial champion, came in over three minutes ahead of his older brother. At the end of the day, Bert was 105th overall and Ralf 116th in the General classification. They had those same rankings after the final stage in Paris, where they finished together on the Champs-Élysées.

Aerts finished Tour de France with broken ribs

By Susan Westemeyer

Mario Aerts was one of many to go down on the road in to Montpellier in stage 11 of the Tour de France but was able to finish the race even with fractured ribs. The Belgian Predictor-Lotto rider picked himself up and continued not only the stage but all the way to Paris. The pain didn't let up, though, and he had himself x-rayed after returning home. The exam revealed that he suffered two broken ribs in the fall.

Since there is not really anything to be done to promote healing, he won't change his riding plans, according to Sportwereld. So he may well be riding Clásica San Sebastián this weekend, broken ribs and all.

Getting a grip on doping

Anne Gripper
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

The past year has seen an acceleration in the fight against the use of performance-enhancing substances, with the Operación Puerto and the Floyd Landis cases acting as a major catalyst. Australian Anne Gripper has been involved in co-ordinating the UCI's anti-doping measures and talked to Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes about the issue.

UCI anti-doping manager Anne Gripper has been in the news a lot recently, not least because of the Michael Rasmussen case at the Tour de France. When challenged by journalists about his missed tests, he told them during a rest-day press conference that he had spoken to Gripper on April 2, 2006 in order to explain the delay in communicated his wheareabouts details. However it emerged that she did not take up her role until several months later.

Since beginning with the UCI on October 17 last year, Gripper has been involved with a number of important introductions to the governing body's anti-doping programme. She played an important role in the 100% Against Doping programme launched earlier this year, a project to greatly increase the amount and sophistication of in-and out-of-competition tests. Gripper was also involved in the Rider's Commitment for a New Cycling initiative, whereby riders were asked to sign a pledge that they were not in any way involved with Operación Puerto or any other doping cases, agreed to give a DNA sample if required, and undertook to pay a year's salary if they tested positive or were otherwise implicated in doping.

Read the full feature.

No Tour TV for Basso

Ivan Basso, suspended from racing for two years, has passed the month of July training and refused to watch the Tour de France.

"The Tour happens how it should happen," said the 29 year-old to La Gazzetta dello Sport while attending the presentation of the Tre Valli Varesine (August 21).

"I refused to watch it. I preferred to train everyday, with constancy, to make myself ready incase there is a reduction [in his two year sentence - ed.] and for the idea of riding the 2008 Worlds, at my home."

The 2008 World Championships are to be held in Basso's home region of Varese, September 28. The Italian was suspended by his national federation for involvement with Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes on June 15 and would be allowed to return to racing October 24, 2008.

Lifelong ban for Ullrich?

By Susan Westemeyer

German investigators looking into the Jan Ullrich case are waiting on a court ruling to decide if they can mail back to Switzerland documents it obtained as part of its investigation. The evidence, according to Swiss Olympic Committee member Bernhard Welten, could result in a lifetime ban from cycling.

Welten said that he still plans on holding a process against Ullrich. "If we receive further circumstantial evidence against him, then it could be that he would receive a lifelong suspension," Welten said.

The German investigators received Jan Ullrich's bank documents from Swiss investigators after a Swiss court ruling. Now a German court must rule whether the documents can go back to Switzerland, this time to Swiss Olympic Committee, which is also investigating the German rider who lives in Switzerland and last raced with a Swiss license.

According to the German news magazine Focus, the "Landsgericht Bonn" will rule on whether the Swiss can obtain copies of the bank documents and other materials gathered by the German investigators.

The return of Vandenbroucke

By Bjorn Haake

Frank Vandenbroucke
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Frank Vandenbroucke had a rough season but is back to racing. Following the request for divorce of the 32 year-old's wife and an attempted suicide, which the Belgian initially denied but later admitted to, he then went to court once again before finally deciding to make a comeback.

The rider from the Italian Acqua & Sapone team, past winner of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, finished eleventh in the post-Tour criterium in Aalst, Belgium, on Monday. While he could not close the 10-second gap to winner Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) of Italy and Belgian champion Stijn Devolder (Discovery Channel), the troubled rider was able to finish in the first chase group of about a dozen riders, more than two minutes ahead of the remainder of the field.

Quick.Step's Gert Steegmans, winner of Tour de France stage 2, took the sprint for third.

Frank Vandenbroucke recently claimed that he can still win the Tour, at least in theory, and his comeback on the road on Monday shows signs of hope in his racing life while his personal life is put back on track.

Lampre-Fondital for Portugal

After its successful run in the Tour de France, including two stage wins by Daniele Bennati, the blue-pink squadra of Giuseppe Saronni heads to Volta a Portugal. The UCI-ranked 2.HC race runs from August 4 to 15.

Directeur Sportifs Giuseppe Martinelli and Bruno Vicino will head to the Iberian Peninsula with Matteo Bono, Paolo Fornaciari, Enrico Franzoi, Mattia Gavazzi, David Loosli, Mauro Santambrogio, Sylvester Szmyd and stagiaire Marco Bandiera.

"Our goal is to do well in Portugal, also because we'd like to thank Lampre Portugal for its support," General Manager Saronni commented. "The race is tough as usual, but we have riders with morale that will try to obtain good results."

Milram for Clásica San Sebastián

Team Milram will field seven riders for the upcoming Spanish Classic, the Clásica San Sebastián, August 4. Directeur Sportif Vittorio Algeri will guide the team with Mirko Celestino, Sergio Ghisalberti, Carlo Scognamiglio, Fabio Sacchi, Marco Velo, Andriy Grivko and Matej Jurco.

Tinkoff's stagiaire update

Three stagiaire riders will join Tinkoff for the remainder of the 2007 as part of an agreement with Under 23 team Filmop Parolin. German Alexander Gottfried and Italians Alessandro Bisolti and Bernardo Riccio join the Italian-Russian team managed by Stefano Feltrin with the plan of officially joining in 2008.

"We know the quality of these boys and we offer them the possibility to be put into the light thanks to this internship, which will start with the August races," clarified Feltrin. "It is in the interest of Tinkoff to place value on the young riders."

Bisolti, 22 years-old from Bergamo, has won the Giro della Valle d'Aosta as a dilettante and is considered to have enormous talent. Riccio (22) from Napoli, is a complete rider who has won nine times this year. Finally, the teams third stagiaire, Gottfried (22) from Nettetal, is a solid time trialist and this year has one a stage for the Giro delle Regioni.

Ride for Life 2007

This Saturday, August 4, the Ride for Life charity event will once again be held in Sydney's Centennial Park. The Australian equivalent of the American event, Ride for the Roses that was organised in conjunction with Lance Armstrong, has the same aim of increasing awareness as well as to raise funds for cancer research.

Last year's event, on a rain soaked day, raised close to AUS$75,000, and this year organiser Phil Bates is hoping to eclipse the $100,000 mark. "The idea is to generate more support from the corporate world, we have the best location in Australia for a bike race, and we have been building on the success of the event each year for the past four years," he explained to Cyclingnews at the Parliament House during the event launch.

The event has the support of Australian Olympian and gold medallist, Steve Wooldridge. "I lost my mother to ovarian cancer just seven months before the Commonwealth games in 2002, so it is something that has touched me in a big way." Wooldridge himself was also struck down with testicular cancer in 2004, a year in which he competed in the Olympic Games; he sees the event as major boost for the awareness of cancer and also cycling.

"The charity benefits and so does cycling, it is great to be involved and I can't see why the event can't continue indefinitely," continued Wooldridge during his speech at the charity lunch to launch the event.

Although he won't be riding the event himself he will be there to watch the women's event, the Jan race, named in memory of his mother.

The event takes place this Saturday August 1 in Centennial Park, kicking off with the open men and under 19 criterium. It includes an event for women as well as a corporate race and races for the kids. There will be food and trade tents lining the circuit, which has been designed with the family in mind. For more information please visit the official website.

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