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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for August 8, 2007

Edited by Bjorn Haake

Astana manager admits being naive

Marc Biver,
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

In a lengthy interview to Suisse magazine Le Temps, Astana's general manager Marc Biver has revealed that the team felt double-crossed. The Swiss has no feeling of guilt, just helpless in events he felt he had no control over. Biver did admit however, that there was a certain degree of naďveté on Astana's part, especially after the morale was low, following the crashes from the captain's, Alexandre Vinokourov and Andreas Klöden.

"There were a lot of people in the entourage of 'Vino'. His father, but also a lot of Kazakhs that I didn't know," Biver explained that he felt like Mario Kummer, both thinking they lost control of the team a bit.

Biver maintained that Vino was the only one putting pressure on himself. "He surrounded himself with bodyguards and wore those dark sun glasses. Like a star," the Swiss was trying to explain the captain's behaviour. "A mechanic who knows him well told me that he had never seen the Kazakh so nervous," was further evidence that things weren't as usual.

The Swiss manager described his relationship with Vinokourov as not very tense, but also admitted that "Vino is not very open. He doesn't talk much."

Biver defended Michele Ferrari, whom he has known since the "EPO years [90's]." I always found him very direct, honest and nice. Back then he already made great training plans. I can't judge him by anything else, I don't have proof," said Biver, who also pointed out that Vino tested positive, which he didn't think was Ferrari's wrong-doing.

Astana's general manager also said that his relationships with Tony Rominger had not suffered. The former professional was a client of Ferrari in the past and managed several riders involved in doping cases, including Astana's Kessler and Vinokourov.

Biver came to the conclusion that one can't trust anybody anymore in cycling and that there is no solidarity, but he doesn't want to quit as it would be like "leaving the ship when the passengers need help."

The Swiss cycling enthusiast put the number 200,000 euro to the financial loss because of quitting the Tour, but acknowledged that the damage to the team's image and credibility can't be measured in money.

Biver admitted that he'd like to follow through and ask Vinokourov for the entire salary back, as stated in the Astana contracts, but was not sure yet what the Kazakh federation will do. He is not too worried right now with the team's future as "Danial Akhmetov [Kazakh defense minister and president of the national cycling federation -ed.] told me Saturday that he'll continue. He gave me all the guarantees. The political interest of Astana goes well beyond the case of Vinokourov. There are 14 training centres in Kazakhstan where 6,000 young kids are taken care of."

As far as the effectiveness of doping controls is concerned Biver had mixed feelings, stating that "I hope those that have ideas in their heads will quickly subscribe to them. Having said that there will always be cheaters, despite toughest measures. In some countries they cut off the thief's hand and there are still thieves. People are made like that. They always tried to be faster, stronger, more intelligent."

Astana hold training camp

Team Astana is not racing, but it is still riding. It announced today that it will hold a training camp to keep its riders in shape while the team sits out for the month of August.

The camp will be held August 11 - 24 at the Vallée de Conches in the Haut Valais, Switzerland. 19 riders will participate, including Andreas Klöden, Andrey Kashechkin, Paolo Savoldelli, Maxim Iglinksy, Gregory Rast, Steve Morabito, Thomas Frei and Michael Schär.

The team's four directeurs sportifs, headed by Mario Kummer, will lead the camp, which will feature training for a team time trial. In addition, the riders will take advantage of the near-by Grimsel, Furka and Nufenen passes to polish their climbing skills. There will also be various medical and physiological tests performed, and the team's "new directives" will be presented.

One sponsor has decided to stay with the team. Auto manufacturer Skoda has confirmed its partnership with Astana, not joining those who are opting out, such as Craft (see article further down).

Jaksche on money, solutions, omerta

Jörg Jaksche
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Jörg Jaksche lost money through his doping confession, he has told, but he is still glad that he opened up on the subject.

"That is my personal contribution to a better future," he said. "Things just can't go on the way they are now. We have to lay our cards on the table. The traditions that have ruled cycling for the past 30 years must be stopped and changed."

"Some people thought that I lied for money," the German, who lives in Austria, noted. "I even lost money through my confession, because I still had an open contract with Liberty through the end of 2007. I would have received the money, even though the team no longer exists. It would have been 20 times more than I received for my confession."

In order to have a doping-free sport, "the thinking must not be limited to riders. I don't mean the punishment, but the solutions. These also affect the people who pay the cyclists. The new consciousness must be supported by those who have the power."

Despite of the spate of recent positive doping tests, Jaksche thinks the sport is getting clean. "It is somewhat cleaner than it was three years ago and significantly cleaner than it was 10 years ago. They are on the right way, but it is a long road. Nobody can expect cycling to change overnight after 35 years of problems."

Jaksche confirmed that he has turned "state's witness" and is cooperating with the authorities. He has spent about 20 hours with various investigating officials "and fully helped to clear up the background. Let's see how high the punishment will be when the Austrian federation makes its ruling the beginning of September." He hopes for a reduced punishment, but noted that he is prepared for anything.

If all goes well, he could be back riding sometime next season. The biggest problem will be finding a team, "because I broke the 'rule of silence'."

Cycling's omerta is upheld by "some of the team bosses. When somebody like me tells all and then doesn't find a new team, not even with a team that is pro-active for clean sport, then it is clear that this omerta continues to exist. It demands that you should not provide any details if you are caught doping or admit to doping. You should just keep your mouth shut."

No case against Jaksche

Team CSC announced yesterday that they have decided not to take legal action against Jörg Jaksche, who had maintained that Bjarne Riis was aware of doping on the team during the time Jaksche was part of it.

After the allegations implied in Jörg Jaksche's doping confession in the German news magazine Der Spiegel, Team CSC had been considering taking up legal action against him. As press officer Brian Nygaard said back then, "these are very, very serious allegations, which we are taking very seriously. It is one thing for Bjarne Riis to go out and talk about his past, but this doesn't mean that anyone can say what they want without any further consequences." Jaksche was not really scared by this and simply answered, "If anyone likes to sue me, they can just go ahead."

Henrik Schlüter, who is chairman for the company behind Team CSC, Riis Cycling A/S, told Danish news agency Ritzau that "We have been in contact with a German lawyer who has specialised in matters like this. And their assessment of the situation is that the way the article in Der Spiegel was written, it was written by a lawyer and it was written just within the limits. Their assessment of our possibilities of winning a case is not very promising."

Contador ill at end of Tour

Alberto Contador
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Alberto Contador was weakening at the end of the Tour de France, and was no longer the strongest rider on the team, he has told the Spanish newspaper Marca.

"From the ride up the Aubisque on I had a sore throat and felt weak. Leipheimer was the stronger of the two of us," he said. "When he attacked on the Aubisque, I called to him to stop, but neither he nor Johan [Bruyneel] heard me. Then I thought OK, let's see how far I can go."

The young Spaniard did all he could to hide his problems from his competitors and the press. "Someone asked me at a press conference why my voice was so hoarse. I said it was nothing. That seemed to me to be the best solution."

Quick.Step Innergetic denies interest in Pereiro

Team Quick.Step Innergetic has denied reports that it is interested in signing Caisse d'Epargne's Oscar Pereiro.

"There is nothing to it," Quick.Step manager Patrick Lefévčre told "We have no budget for a potential Tour winner and moreover we are simply not interested."

The team's press agent, Alessandro Tegner confirmed to Cyclingnews that the "team does not have interest in Pereiro as a rider for its future. We have talked to many riders on an informal basis, which is normal, but there has been no contract negotiations."

Landis to Leadville, no Armstrong

Floyd Landis can't compete in many cycling races
Photo ©: AFP Photo
(Click for larger image)

Floyd Landis will be returning to racing this weekend in the Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on Saturday, but he won't be going up against fellow American Lance Armstrong.

"Lance will not be attending Leadville but will be at the event in Colorado Springs on Thursday evening," his spokesman Mark Higgins told AP. He will be addressing a fundraiser that evening.

The race will be Landis' second after his positive doping test following last year's Tour de France and hip surgery. He rode in the Teva Mountain Games in Colorado in June. The Leadville race is a 100 mile race for 1,000 mountain bikers. "We don't think for Floyd the race is going to last very long," race co-founder Ken Chlouber said.

Chlouber said that he would still not be surprised if Armstrong decided to ride. "The deadline for us mortals was February, but for Lance it will be 30 seconds before the starting gun goes off. Actually, let's make that 10 seconds," he said. "If Lance shows up, he'll be in the front row right alongside Floyd Landis."

Euskaltel squad for German races

The Basque team Euskaltel Euskadi will start the Tour of Germany with a team formed by Jon Bru, Alán Pérez, Juanjo Óroz, Koldo Fernández de Larrea, Aitor Galdos, Dioni Galparsoro, Antton Luengo and Unai Uribarri. The directeur sportif will be Xabier Carbayeda. The event runs from August 10 to 18. The same riders are also scheduled to participate in the Vattenfall Cyclassics in Hamburg on August 19, the only changes being Gorka Verdugo and Rubén Pérez doing the one day race instead of Unai Uribarri and Antton Luengo.

Fernández de Larrea and Galdos are in the lineup for possible sprint finishes. Dioni Galparsoro y Antton Luengo wil want to do well in the mountain stages, with a possible Vuelta start as the goal for the fall. Jon Bru, Alan Pérez, Juanjo Oroz and Unai Uribarri will have the chance to get into breakaways.

Saunier Duval-Prodir for Germany

The Italian wing of Saunier Duval-Prodir is travelling to Germany to take part in the Deutschland Tour, beginning August 10. The line up includes Riccardo Riccň, Manuele Mori, Guido Trentin, Leonardo Piepoli, Ángel "Litu" Gómez, Ruben Bertogliati, Raivis Belohvosciks and Remmert Wielinga. For the Vattenfall Cyclassics in Hamburg Piepoli and Wielinga will be replaced by David Millar and Luciano Pagliarini.

Milram announces three stagiaires for rest of season

Luca Barla (Italy)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Three riders will join the Milram professional team for the remainder of the season as stagiaires. All three were born in 1987 and are riding for UC Bergamasca. The riders are Efrem Salvi of Bergamasco, Luca Barla of Sanremo and Luca Orlandi of Brianzolo.

Milram's technical director Antonio Bevilacqua praised them as "three kids that certainly have value that come from our breeding centre, the UC Bergamasca – Milram, and we want to give them the professional experience before a possible move up to the higher category."

Stagiaires are Elite or Under 23 riders enrolled in a trade team starting from September 1, sort of like an apprenticeship.

Interim manager for Rabobank

Rabobank has appointed an interim general manager for the ProTour team it sponsors. Henri van der Aat will serve in that position for three months, it was announced. Team spokesman Jacob Bergsma confirmed to Cyclingnews that the sponsor's Board of Commissioners had made the appointment.

Van der Aat is managing director of Trefpunt, an Amsterdam sports consulting agency which works with Rabobank concerning its various sponsorships. He is a former athlete and coach, having represented the Netherlands in the Olympics in sailing in 1980, and having coached the national team in 1984 and 1988.

He replaces Theo de Rooij, who resigned in light of the Rasmussen affair.

"This is a temporary function, until the internal investigation of the Rasmussen matter has been cleared up," van der Aat told

Vuelta goes Dutch in '09

The Vuelta a Espańa will start in the Netherlands in 2009, the organizer Unipublic has told the Belgian website SportWereld.

According to preliminary plans, the Vuelta will start on the WK MotoGP, an auto race course in Assen, near Groningen, and would then spend several days in the country before moving down to Spain.

Australians top the track medal table at the Junior World Championships

Tomic smashed the world record twice.
Photo ©: Chris Winter
(Click for larger image)

The Australian team added another two gold and two silver medals to their collection overnight to finish on top of the medal table in the track events at the Junior World Championships being raced at altitude in Aquascalientes, Mexico. The latest victories came in the women's points race and the men's 1km time trial with Australia claiming silver in the Madison and women's keirin to give the Australians a final event tally of seven gold, three silver and two bronze medals.

West Australian Josephine Tomic, 18, who broke the world record to claim gold in the 2km individual pursuit on day two of competition, dominated the women's points race overnight to win her second World Champion's rainbow jersey. "The strategy was to get a few points early on and then at the halfway mark to attack and try and get away," explained Tomic. "Everyone was pretty much sitting on my wheel which made it hard in the beginning but then I laid off for a little bit before I launched my attack."

First year junior, Canberra's Tom Palmer, 17, set a new Australian record on his way to gold in the men's kilometre time trial. His time of 1'02"366, which is an average of 57.724 km/h, lowered the Australian mark by more than 1.5 seconds from previous record holder, West Australian Scott Sunderland.

"As I finished the race I could hear all the 'Aussies' on the inside of the track screaming really loudly so I knew it had to be a quick time," said Palmer who is a member of the Drapac Porsche Development Team. "Then it was a pretty nervous wait for more than an hour as everyone else tried to knock off my time."

New Zealand's Edward Dawkins came closest with 1'02"499 to claim silver. This is the fastest time ever recorded by a New Zealand cyclist at any level of competition.

In the Madison event Victorian pair Leigh Howard and Glenn O'Shea teamed to score silver behind Russia. O'Shea already had two gold medals in his collection from the omnium and teams pursuit while Howard won gold in the teams pursuit and bronze in the individual pursuit.

"We both had good form going in and we had done some training together so we were fairly confident of our chances," said O'Shea. "The Russians and Italians are always pretty strong though so we had to work for the medal."

"There were only five sprints (one every twenty laps of the 100 lap event) so it was important to start off well from the gun," explained Howard. "Unfortunately we were boxed in for the first sprint but we sorted that out for the next four and managed to win the final sprint and place second in two more.

In the women's keirin Perth's Josie Butler claimed silver after forcing her way into the final through the repechage.

"I made sure in the second round I didn't make the same mistake and in the final I rode on the front right behind the derny (pace motorbike)," said Butler. "After the derny pulled off I was waiting for someone to lead out the sprint so I could jump on their wheel and that worked exactly to plan. While unable to come around the Russian winner Victoria Baranova for the gold Butler hung on for silver.

National Junior Performance Director, Gary Sutton, says the team's performances have been some of the best he has ever witnessed.

"It's been an unbelievable journey from when we started with them after the Nationals in February, through three training camps to here," said Sutton. "I thought last year was the best ever as far as team spirit but this team is as good and I have nothing but praise for the results, planning and commitment achieved by both the athletes and staff.

"I'm also amazed at the attention we've received as a team from the Mexican fans," said Sutton. "We had to get the security guards to help us get out of the track tonight because of the hundreds of kids and adults wanting autographs and photos with the riders."

Despite the astonishing success of the team Sutton says there is still room for improvement. "I just did our final team talk and to be honest have taken two pages of notes on how we can raise the bar for next year," he said. "There'll be no sitting back and resting on our laurels and there are things we can do both on and off the bike to fine tune even more.

Bobridge, Meyer and Tomic will now turn their attention to the road events which begin on Thursday local time with the time trials followed by the road races on Sunday.

Craft cancels Astana Cycling Team Sponsorship

Swedish cycling apparel specialist Craft canceled its cooperation contract with ProTour team Astana. By ending the sponsorship, Craft drew the consequences of team captain Alexander Vinokourov's positive doping test and Astana's subsequent Tour de France drop out. With this step, Craft also emphasized its dedication to a doping-free sports world.

"We are extremely disappointed by the latest incidents. We love cycling and our sponsorship of professional athletes and teams reflects our belief in the unique excitement of sports. However, doping contradicts our conviction, our commitment and ethics. More importantly, it harms not only our credibility, but sports in general", said Jens Petersson, Managing Director of Craft.

The Swedish company specializes in the optimization of high-tech sports apparel to support athletes with the best performance gear in their pursuit of sporting goals.

The involvement in professional sports and close cooperation with the world’s best athletes is the foundation of the brand's philosophy and its product development. Jens Petersson added that "We want to continue our sponsoring commitment, which runs successfully in cross-country, running and triathlon. We believe those co-operations to be extremely productive for both sides. So we will also look for new projects in cycling – projects, which will confirm our trust and will live the true excitement of cycling. We might support more grassroots events like the very successful Craft Bike Trans Germany this year, but we haven’t made decisions yet."

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