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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

Latest Cycling News for August 3, 2007

Edited by Gregor Brown

Danielson on the road to recovery

Tom Danielson in early 2007
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Tom Danielson has been struggling to find his form over the last few years and the 29 year-old American admitted that when things continued to go so poorly this season he was worried not just for his career but for his life. Extensive testing has diagnosed his troubles as Giardia and, fortunately, he almost immediately he started feeling better.

"I was scared. I was scared for my health. I was scared for my career," he said in an interview with Colorado's Durango Herald. "I didn't know what was going on."

Danielson had been having stomach problems since 2004, and even repeated visits to various emergency rooms were unable to pinpoint the problem. "It was really frustrating, to be sick and not be able to train. I mean, I got so sick that I thought I was going to die or something. The symptoms for what I had ranged from a parasite or something like this all the way to cancer."

He had been scheduled to ride the Tour de France this year but that was no longer a possibility. "At that point, not going to the Tour was OK with me because I couldn't even ride my bike."

After returning from Spain to his home in Durango, he sought out his friend and doctor Patrick Gerstenberger who carefully went through Danielson's history and spent a lot of time with the cyclist.

The ultimate diagnosis was Giardia, an intestinal illness caused by a microscopic parasite. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, "Normally illness lasts for one to two weeks, but there are cases of chronic infections lasting months to years." The latter seems to apply to Danielson. He apparently picked the bug up when he won the Tour of Langkawi in Malaysia in 2003. "From when I did Malaysia back in '03, from then on we've kind of had this documented history of these weird symptoms," he said.

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Putting a name to the problems seems to have helped. Only a month after the diagnosis, Danielson won the Mount Evans Hill Climb. "From two days, three days, I went from not being able to ride my bike 15 miles per hour - I really couldn't go any faster - to feeling the best I've had in my life."

He has now returned to his season headquarters in Spain where he will take on the second half of the season, starting with the Clásica San Sebastián on Saturday. His new season highlight will now be the Vuelta a Espańa in September, a race in which he finished sixth overall in 2006 and seventh in 2005.

Merckx convinced the majority of cyclists are clean

Photo ©: Greg Johnson
(Click for larger image)

Legend Eddy Merckx, winner of nearly every race on the calendar, is forced to face the current doping polemics with the entire cycling community. The 62 year-old Belgian who reigned from the 1960s to 1970s believes that although the sport is going through a black period, three-fourths of the cyclists are riding clean.

"I hope that cycling rises again. The disease is terrible, the situation continues to be serious, but there are signs of life," said the five-time winner of the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia to Marco Pastonesi of La Gazzetta dello Sport. The sport has been rocked by doping related incidents in the last month involving Patrik Sinkewitz (T-Mobile), Alexander Vinokourov (Astana), Cristian Moreni (Cofidis), Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) and Luca Ascani (Aurum Hotels).

"There a lot of honest guys. I say that three-fourths of the gruppo is clean. The others are at risk. [Tour Director] Christian Prudhomme is right; the riders that are doping are playing Russian roulette with their lives."

He noted that blood doping, as the case with Vinokourov, is a very serious matter. "There is doping and then there is doping. Don't expel Alessandro Petacchi because he took extra sprays [of asthma drug Salbutamol - ed.], and consider he also had a medical certificate. But for blood transfusions I will not have pity."

A French paper issued its steps in ridding the sport of doping and it mentioned shortening the Grand Tours; Merckx disagreed. "This will not change anything. The problems would remain the same. Without doping [the tours] would be slower but the people would not mind."

Merckx was himself at the centre of controversy when he was forced to leave the 1969 Giro d'Italia based on a doping-related incident, however, he always maintained he was a victim of an error or a conspiracy. "It was based on a medicine that was not forbidden. They never did a counter-analysis. The stage in question was insignificant. Further, the private analysis, done right after the positive result, came out negative. ... Everyone is able to make a mistake, even the judicial authority."

Reus out of the hospital

Kai Reus wins
Photo ©: Régis Garnier
(Click for larger image)

Kai Reus has left the hospital in Amsterdam after only a short stay and will now continue his recovery at home, Team Rabobank has announced. The 22-year-old had been placed in an induced coma following a training crash in France.

In that accident, Reus suffered a broken collarbone and three broken ribs, as well as a brain haemorrhage. Doctors at the hospital in Grenoble, France, held him in an induced coma until last weekend. After he was awakened, he was flown home to the Netherlands.

Reus will now continue his recovery at his parents' home in Winkel. His recuperation is expected to take a long time, and the team said on its website,, that he will have all the time that he needs. At the moment he is still very tired and emotional. He is expected to suffer no permanent damage.

Suspension? Basso in Giro delle Valli Cuneesi

Basso during CONI visit
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Ivan Basso was handed a two-year suspension June 15 by the Italian cycling federation (FCI) for his involvement with the Eufemiano Fuentes doping ring but the former Discovery Channel rider continues to make appearances in racing-related events. Earlier this week, he was at the presentation of the Tre Valli Varesine and he will be on his bike in front of the fans when the Giro delle Valli Cuneesi starts today in Cuneo (Piemonte, Italy).

The 29 year-old Italian has been invited to ride pre-race for the fans in the first stage of the five-day amateur stage race according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. He will use the 145 kilometres from Cuneo to Carrů as training before the riders race the same parcours.

The appearance underlines Basso's love for the sport but it also sends mixed signals from a rider that has never fully admitted his guilt. Basso was faced with evidence contrary to his earlier statements to the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) during its investigation and was put in a position where he had to confess. The details of Fuentes' operations were sparse and the next day before the press he watered down his involvement.

"In my career I have never used doping products or resorted to blood transfusions," said Basso May 8. Investigators found blood bags in Madrid marked for the 29 year-old Italian but he claimed that although he had the blood extracted he never had it transfused.

Klöden rides in Germany

Andreas Klöden will return to racing Friday evening at the 16th Bitburger-City-Nacht in Rhede, Germany, his first race after Team Astana withdrew itself from the Tour de France following Alexander Vinokourov's positive doping result.

Race organizer Uwe Hengstermann said that he had received a text message from Klöden's manager Tony Rominger "again confirming that Andreas Klöden will come to Rhede on Friday." On the race's website,, Hengstermann said, "Andreas Klöden has not ridden any races since Astana's forced withdrawal from the Tour de France and, as far as we know, he will start racing again for the first time in Rhede."

Although the team decided to suspend its activities during the month of August Klöden is able to ride in this race because he signed a personal contract to appear.

It was not clear whether Klöden will appear in his Astana kit and what bike he would be riding. Bike sponsor BMC cancelled its contract with the team as of August 1.

Gerolsteiner and T-Mobile for Rund um die Hainleite and Sparkassen Giro in Bochum

Team Gerolsteiner and T-Mobile are taking on two races in Germany this weekend the Rund um die Hainleite and Sparkassen Giro in Bochum. Sebastian Lang will lead the Germany-based Gerolsteiner team at the 100th Rund um die Hainleite in Erfurt on Saturday, while German National Champion Fabian Wegmann is captain in the Sparkassen Giro in Bochum on Sunday.

For the Hainleite the eight-man roster will be Thomas Fothen, Oscar Gatto, Torsten Hiekmann, David Kopp, Carlo Westphal, Tom Stamsnijder, Sven Krauss and Sebastian Lang. The next day in Bochum, Krauss and Lang will be substituted with Heinrich Haussler and Wegmann. The full team will be Thomas Fothen, Oscar Gatto, Torsten Hiekmann, David Kopp, Carlo Westphal, Tom Stamsnijder, Heinrich Haussler and Fabian Wegmann.

Germany-based T-Mobile will also be in the local action this weekend. Thomas Ziegler will lead the team in his hometown of Erfurt in Rund um die Hainleite. The race also features the debut of stagiaire Andrej Klyuev.

On Sunday, sprinter Gerald Ciolek and Tour de France stage winner Linus Gerdemann will be in charge for the Sparkassen-Giro in Bochum.

The line-up for Hainleite is Eric Baumann, Bert Grabsch, Andre Greipel, Andreas Klier, Andre Korff, Stephan Schreck, Thomas Ziegler and Andrej Klyuev. Ziegler and Klyuev will then be replaced by Ciolek and Gerdemann for the next day's race, which will be contested by Eric Baumann, Gerald Ciolek, Linus Gerdemann, Bert Grabsch, Andre Greipel, Andreas Klier, Andre Korff and Stephan Schreck.

Milram's German weekend

Alessandro Petacchi will lead Team Milram this weekend in Germany. In the 100th Rund um die Hainleite in Erfurt on Saturday the 33 year-old Italian will line up as part of a seven-man team. The race organizers are not enthusiastic about his presence, but said that they can't prevent him from riding.

Milram for Hainleite will consist of Petacchi with Enrico Poitschke, Fabio Sabatini, Niki Terpstra, Dennis Haueisen, Sebastian Schwager and Björn Schroeder.

The Germany-based team will field a similar team for Sparkassen Giro in Bochum on Sunday but with the addition of Tour de France riders Erik Zabel and Marcel Sieberg, both of whom have been on the podium in of the race in recent years. Zabel was third in 2006 and Sieberg finished second in 2005.

The Milram team for Bochum will be Zabel, Petacchi, Sieberg, Ralf Grabsch, Fabio Sabatini, Martin Müller and Niki Terpstra.

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