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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for August 3, 2007

Edited by Laura Weislo

World championships to go forward with additional antidoping controls

The host city of this year's UCI World Championships agreed to go forward with the race after the UCI agreed to impose additional antidoping controls. Stuttgart, which will host the championships from September 26-30, had come under increasing pressure from politicians who called for the additional measures following the high profile doping cases of this year's Tour de France.

Stuttgart's chief of sports Susanne Eisenmann told the Associated Press, "The controls are so all-encompassing that no one will dope and not be caught. This is a real chance for a new start."

The UCI agreed to carry out 200 controls before the championships and 150 during the event - more than doubling the number of controls, blood and urinary, carried out during previous years, and well in excess of the 60 controls which were planned originally.

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Had the city not come to an agreement, it could have lost €3 million (US$4 million) of money it had already invested in the race.

Cofidis returns to racing in Spain

Cofidis
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

The Cofidis squad will return to the peloton in this weekend's Spanish races less than two weeks after withdrawing from the Tour de France on July 25th following the doping positive of its rider Cristian Moreni. The team issued a statement on its website, www.equipe-cofidis.com, saying that the suspension of the team was only temporary, and that leaving the Tour was necessary in order to send a strong message to the riders in light of "inadmissible behaviour".

The statement continued, "This withdrawal also allowed the sponsor Cofidis time to analyse the situation and to come to conclusions on the future of the team." Confident that the positive control for testosterone was the result an "intolerable, but individual and isolated from doping," the team committed to forging ahead with reinforced measures to prevent doping.

The team has been actively fighting doping by its riders since the eruption of the case that was labelled 'the Cofidis affair', much to the chagrin of its sponsor. What began with a former team member being caught with banned doping products at a Paris airport ended in a length court case that finally concluded in late 2006. The team vowed not to give up its long fight "against this plague" and wants to return to competition to avoid penalising innocent riders for the actions of one.

Getting a grip on doping

Aussie Anne Gripper is the face behind the UCI's antidoping campaign
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

Aside from the issues mentioned in Part I of this interview, UCI antidoping manager Anne Gripper also discussed many other topics in an earlier chat with Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes in the run-up to the Tour de France. This conversation covered important areas such as the different philosophies emerging within pro teams, DNA and Operación Puerto, the Men in Black and out of competition testing, the relationship between the UCI and WADA and the fact that innocent riders are now no longer willing to stay quiet about cheating in the sport.

In the years since the Festina Affair, media, judicial, financial and moral pressure has been put on teams and riders not to dope. 2006 is seen as a turning point of sorts, as with the Operación Puerto and Floyd Landis affairs the previously-existing Omerta [code of silence] began to be challenged. More and more riders recognised the bleak future which was in store for cycling if such things continued. There has consequently been an increasing number of people stressing the need for change.

In addition, the Puerto affair was followed by the news that several teams were going to set up strict antidoping structures which, in addition to a toughened code of ethics, further moved things forward. Jan Ullrich's T-Mobile and Ivan Basso's CSC were the teams of Puerto's most high-profile riders to be excluded from the 2006 Tour and both consequently had a lot to lose. They were under a lot of pressure from the sponsors, the media and the public and for this reason a new start was needed, and many changes introduced. The riders concerned were fired, restructurings took place and large sums of money were set aside by both to fund external, independent testing to be run on the riders.

Both teams have become strong proponents of a clean sport, as has the Slipstream Chipotle team of Jonathan Vaughters It requires its riders to undergo regular, advanced testing in order to prove to onlookers that there is nothing to hide. A number of French teams plus the German Gerolsteiner squad have also been very outspoken.

Some others, however, are either being less transparent or are actively dragging their heels. It seems that the Puerto message still hasn't sunk home for some, who are happy to continue turning a blind eye to doping, or worse.

"There are some teams who've really embraced the whole antidoping issue and take on responsibility for it themselves," said Gripper during the Tour de Suisse. "They have done two major things. They have put in place very strong antidoping programmes that they are funding and they are organising themselves, but they have also really made strong attempts to change the culture and to make sure that the environment in which the riders are living and training is free from the temptation and the pressure to dope. They are focusing much more on good, hard, clean training and they put everything in the environment to enable the riders to do that.

Read the rest of part two of the interview, or start with part one.

UCI extends antidoping charter to Pro Continental teams

UCI president Pat McQuaid travelled to Geneva today to meet with the organisation's Professional Continental teams and to extend to them the "Riders' commitment to a new cycling" and the "Managers' and other team staff's commitment to a new cycling" antidoping pledge. McQuaid appealed to the teams to sign the documents, which were signed by the most ProTour teams and staff, albeit at times begrudgingly.

According to a UCI press release, 641 riders, managers and other staff members have signed the pledge which states that they will forfeit a year's salary if they violate antidoping rules. The agreement hasn't had a chance to stand up to any legal challenges following the recent Tour de France positives of Alexander Vinokourov and Cristian Moreni, both of whom signed the charter.

CONI appeal on Petacchi set

Alessandro Petacchi may return to competition this week, but he's not out of hot water yet. While the Italian cycling federation cleared the Milram man on charges stemming from a 'non-negative' doping control from the Giro d'Italia, the decision was appealed by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) which wants to see a one year ban. The date for the appeal has been set for August 11 according to the Italian federation.

Petacchi was left off his team's roster for the Tour de France, and spent the month instead awaiting a decision by the antidoping authorities on punishment for a urine test which showed he had more than the allowable amount of the asthma drug Salbutamol in his system during the Giro d'Italia. The rider claimed that he had simply used too much of his asthma inhaler.

Luca Ascani positive for EPO

The reigning Italian time trial champion Luca Ascani (Aurum Hotels) was suspended by his team following news that the rider had tested positive for EPO. The 24 year-old tested positive following his championship ride, according to the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), the country's antidoping agency.

His team suspended him pending the outcome of the hearing on his case. Ascani thus becomes the next in a long line of recent doping positives including Saunier Duval's Iban Mayo, Astana's Alexander Vinokourov and Matthias Kessler, T-Mobile's Patrik Sinkewitz, and fellow Italian Cristian Moreni (Cofidis).

Sinkewitz' home searched

The German Bundeskriminalamt (federal police) searched Patrik Sinkewitz' apartment in Künzell, Germany, on Thursday. The search was connected to the BKA's investigation of the German cyclist for "fraud or damages against his contract partners", and is unrelated to his positive testosterone doping test.

Both the BKA and Sinkewitz' attorney Michael Lehner confirmed the search. It was a routine matter, Lehner told the press agency dpa. "Herr Sinkewitz has nothing to hide and will answer all questions posed to him."

A spokesman for the BKA said that it was acting on behalf of prosecutors in Bonn. It is alleged that the former T-Mobile rider used medications for doping purposes and in so doing would have "defrauded and damaged" business partners such as sponsors and sporting event organisers.

Di Luca returns to racing, Bettini rests

Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Giro d'Italia champion Danilo Di Luca will be back in competition at this weekend's Clasica San Sebastián in Spain on August 4. Di Luca will head up the team directed by team manager Mario Scirea along with Michael Albasini, Manuel Beltrán, Leonardo Bertagnolli, Kjell Carlström, Murilo Fischer, Aleksandr Kuschynski and Alessandro Spezialetti.

On Sunday, Paris-Nice stage winner Franco Pellizotti will lead the Liquigas team in the Giro dell'Appennino with Eros Capecchi, Dario Cataldo, Francesco Failli, Matej Mugerli, Andrea Noè, Roberto Petito and Charles Wegelius under direction of team manager Mario Chiesa.

One rider who won't be taking part in the Clasica San Sebastián is World Champion Paolo Bettini. The Italian is suffering from tendonitis in his left knee, an injury that has forced him to pull out of the Tour de Wallonie. On advice from his team doctors, Bettini will take a short period of rest in order to prepare for the Deutschland Tour (10-18 August).

Leading the Quick.Step-Innergetic team in his place with be Carlos Barredo along with Mauro Facci, Addy Engels, Juan Manuel Garate, Bram Tankink, Jurgen Van De Walle, Giovanni Visconti, and Tour stage winner Cedric Vasseur.

T-Mobile to San Sebastián

Kim Kirchen, who finished seventh overall in the Tour de France, will lead T-Mobile Team in the Clasica San Sebastián in northern Spain Saturday. He will be supported by climbing specialist Giuseppe Guerini.

"Because of some injured riders and parallel races at the weekend, we've had to improvise a little," said Directeur Sportif Allan Peiper. "But we believe that around Kirchen and Guerini, we'll have a strong team at the start in Spain."

T-Mobile for San Sebastián: Michael Barry, Marcus Burghardt, Scott Davis, Giuseppe Guerini, Roger Hammond, Adam Hansen and Kim Kirchen

Stagiaires in season

August is the time of year for the professional teams to pick up young, promising riders from the lesser ranks, toss them into the waters of high-level competition and see if they sink or swim. This year is no different, and a big crop of youngsters will hit the roads alongside seasoned professionals in several upcoming races.

The T-Mobile Team is continuing its trends attracting young, international riders by signing three stagiaires from three different lands. The young riders will immediately join the team and race with the pros until the end of the season.

Ian Stannard, 20, of Great Britain, is already riding the Tour of Denmark for T-Mobile, but the colours aren't completely unfamiliar for him. He rode previously for the T-Mobile Development program and the Dutch Continental team Van Vliet.

23-year-old Dutchman Marcel Beima rode for the Dutch Continental team Rime-Van Hemert. The third rider is Andrey Klyuev, of Russia, who rode this season for the Russian team Moscow Stars. He will appear for T-Mobile Saturday in Rund um die Hainleite.

The Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner team will also be fielding several youngsters in upcoming races. According to the team's website, www.landbouwkrediet-tonissteiner.be, Belgians Sebastien Delfosse (25 - Bergasol-Euromillions), Kevin Maene (26 - New Heebra-De Lombarden) and the Dutchman Dirk Bellmaekers (23 -Van Vliet-EBH Advocaten) will represent the squad in upcoming races.

Meanwhile, the Saunier Duval-Prodir team will test the abilities of two Spaniards from its under-23 team, Rafa Serrano (20) and Héctor González (21), as well as Swiss rider Danilo Wyss (21 - Atlas-Romer's Hausbäckerei Continental Team).

World Champions to sprint school

Two time world champ Victoria Pendleton (GBr).
Photo ©: Mitch Friedman
(Click for larger image)

British cycling talents will have the honour of learning from the best this week when World Champions Victoria Pendleton and Jamie Staff will head up instruction at the DHL Exel Supply Chain Sprint School on Friday August 3rd at the Newport International Velodrome.

Sprint School mentor Craig MacLean is away on other commitments so Vicki and Jamie will be back again to give the riders tips, advice and encouragement. After the last sprint school on June 1st, Vicki had plenty of praise for the initiative, "It's hard to learn the skills and practice some of the techniques," she said.

"So this is a great chance for kids to learn about a specialised area of the sport - sprinting - that doesn't get much focus in the UK at this sort of level. There will always be kids coming through, but giving them a little bit more of an idea of sprinting specifically might help prepare them to get onto other development schemes within British cycling."

The Sprint School aims to give young cyclists the opportunity to meet and learn from some of the world's greatest sprinters, as well as spending the day being coached by British Cycling Talent Team coaches. The schools are designed to allow more young riders aged between 12 and 15 the opportunity to access World Class coaching in a fun and friendly environment. As well as track training, the Sprint School aims to teach young riders about all elements of track racing and includes workshops on subjects such as nutrition, bike maintenance and racing etiquette.

DHL aims for the schools to be inclusive and is keen to allow as many young cyclists as possible access to the school. With every track league in the country requested to nominate two girls and two boys per school the net has been spread wide, and there has been huge demand.

The next two schools will take place back to back at the end of August, on Friday 17th and Friday 31st. They will prepare the riders for their first taste of competitive sprinting at Future Revolution in October this year.

With Britain currently having so much success on the international stage, the youngsters from across the country will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of some of the sports great names such as Jason Queally, Chris Hoy, Jamie Staff and Victoria Pendleton – all of whom won their World, Commonwealth and Olympic Medals in sprinting.

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2007)