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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for August 12, 2007

Edited by Laura Weislo with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

Voigt captures lead in Germany

By Susan Westemeyer and Bjorn Haake

Jens Voigt (CSC)
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

Jens Voigt took the lead in the overall classification of the Tour of Germany on Saturday, thanks to a strong team time trial by his CSC squad. Voigt recaptured the yellow leader's jersey which he brought home from last year's Deutschland Tour by one second over team-mate Fabian Cancellara, who actually crossed the finish line first. That one second came when Voigt sprinted out of the peloton on the third intermediate sprint in Friday's opening stage. "I went for the bonus yesterday because you never know. In '99 I won the Criterium International by two-tenths of a second. You will always regret not taking such opportunities."

He called the team time trial course "a hard course, it went up right from the beginning! The second part was flatter on good, wide roads." He was glad, too, that his team's main rival Discovery Channel started ahead of them. "Discovery is very strong, and we wanted to start behind them, so we could get their time splits."

Holding on to the yellow admittedly won't be an easy task for the Berlin native. "Rettenbachferner will be hard, but now I have a little time gap and I don't have to go with the first attack. The next two days should be OK. But if I completely explode, we hope that Andy Schleck will take over. He is a great wildcard to have and we'd like to keep the jersey in the team."

Voigt has plenty of men to keep an eye on in his defence of the overall classification, especially Tour de France third place finisher Levi Leipheimer. "I would have considered Leipheimer one of my main competitors even before the race. But there is also Gerolsteiner, who have a good climber with Kohl and T-Mobile of course. I don't want to give a prediction right now."

The recent spate of doping scandals was purported by the German press to have turned the general public against cycling, but Voigt didn't see any sign of that. "Ratingen was my first race after the Tour and I was a bit nervous about it. But there were about the same amount of people and most were cheering us on. I have the impression that those who don't care stay at home and the others come to the races and are happy about it," he said. "Yesterday there were many spectators despite the rain and on a Friday afternoon," Voigt added.

Leipheimer before the race of the truth
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

Looking at other issues, he noted that the sport is having a tough time with sponsors right now, especially in light of yesterday's news that Discovery Channel would stop at the end of the season. The team insisted that the move was its own choice, and not because of difficulties finding sponsors, but the loss of the cable television network's support certainly didn't help matters. "It's hard to get sponsors right now. They come and they go, but it's not only because of doping. Sponsors make economic decisions and if they feel that they have gotten everything out of it after three or five years they leave."

With the dissolution of such a large organisation, the market is now flooded with riders and staff looking for work. "I feel for the cyclists, as they will have to look for jobs. Not only 30 racers, but also those who are behind the scenes. All the staff involved."

The news isn't all bleak, as CSC committed in June to continued sponsorship despite manager Bjarne Riis' admission of doping. T-Mobile and Milram's sponsor Nordmilch AG both renewed their support this week, and Voigt had more good news. "We stayed in the same hotel with Cofidis, and its riders told us that they will continue at least until 2008."

"We are thankful for every team that continues. Let's hope the Discovery Channel riders can find a job," Voigt concluded.

Rasmussen to start in Pijnacker

Tour de France yellow jersey holder Michael Rasmussen will race in the Ronde Van Pijnacker criterium next Saturday. The rider made waves earlier this week when he started earlier this month at a criterium in Copenhagen wearing a plain yellow jersey. Rasmussen was fired by his Rabobank team during the Tour de France and sent home over questions surrounding his whereabouts prior to the Tour, but is not under suspension by the UCI and has no rules prohibiting him from racing.

According to ANP, the organisation is paying €15,000 for Rasmussen's appearance. President Maarten Welling said the organisation had no qualms with extending the invitation to the Dane. "He is an unfortunate victim of the situation. He has not been caught doping, the reason for his dismissal is still completely unclear. We have sympathy for him," said Welling.

Antidoping briefs: Petacchi, Piepoli cleared, D-Tour blood tests, Moreni, Klöden reacts

Italian feds rejects CONI appeal

Alessandro Petacchi (Milram)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

CONI's appeal to force the Italian Cycling Federation to exact a sanction against sprinter Alessandro Petacchi for his 'non-negative' for Salbutamol was rejected on Saturday. The agency had hoped to overturn a previous ruling by the federation which cleared the Milram rider of wrongdoing after he went over the limit for the amount of the drug in his urine during the Giro d'Italia on May 23.

CONI had initially recommended a one year suspension, but the punishment was rejected by the Italian federation in July. Petacchi resumed racing this month in the Rund um die Hainleite in Germany, and also took part in the GP Citta di Camaiore on Friday with an eye toward September's Vuelta a España.

Petacchi's case is not behind him just yet, however. The reason behind the federation's rejection of the appeal was that it is not the proper group to hear the appeal. The case should be appealed in the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland, and CONI's antidoping prosecutor Ettore Torri said his organisation would launch an appeal with CAS shortly.

Piepoli cleared

The cycling federation of Monaco has cleared Saunier Duval's Leonardo Piepoli of doping charges. The Italian returned a 'non-negative' result for the asthma drug salbutamol during the Giro d'Italia, a drug for which he holds a medical exemption from the UCI. The amount of the drug in Piepoli's urine, however, exceeded limits set by the antidoping authorities, resulting in a suspension from his team pending the outcome of the investigation.

Both Piepoli and Milram's Alessandro Petacchi may still have to face appeals by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), the country's antidoping authority.

Piepoli hopes to resume racing in Spain on Tuesday in the Vuelta Ciclista a Burgos.

D-Tour blood tests

The Deutschland Tour promised more doping tests prior to the start, and the organisers carried through with that vow. Saturday before the time trial, a total of 47 riders from Quick.Step-Innergetic, Bouygues Télécom, Saunier Duval, T-Mobile, Unibet.com and Wiesenhof Felt were tested. Blood was taken and tested for haematocrit, haemogolbin and reticulites. None of the test results indicated any problem, and the results will now be compared with the blood profiles that the riders have filed with the UCI.

Another blow for Klöden

Andreas Klöden had thought that things couldn't get any worse after the positive doping tests of his team-mates Matthias Kessler and Alexander Vinokourov -- and then came the news about Andrey Kashechkin.

"After the criterium in Rhede, I had just begun to halfway focus on my next goal, the World's in Stuttgart -- and then my morale was plunged into the cellar again," he wrote on his website, Andreas-kloeden.com. "I don't want to judge anyone and the results of Kaschechkin's B-test are still out. But I simply can't understand that there are still riders in the peloton who don't seem to know what they are doing to themselves and to cycling."

Klöden noted that he wouldn't be attending the Astana training camp, as planned. "Instead I will continue to work with my trainer Thomas Schediwie for the Worlds. And I also have to discuss my athletic future with my management."

Moreni gets two year suspension

Cristian Moreni arrives at his CONI hearing
Photo ©: AFP Photo
(Click for larger image)

Italian Cristian Moreni has been given a two year suspension following a positive control for testosterone in the 11th stage of the Tour de France. The 34 year-old attended a hearing with CONI on Wednesday, who subsequently handed down the punishment. Moreni admitted to using the drug after his team was forced to withdraw from the Tour de France after his positive test.

Moreni was one of three riders to test positive during the 2007 Tour de France, along with Astana's Alexander Vinokourov (blood transfusion) and Saunier-Duval's Iban Mayo (EPO). He is one of several riders to test positive for testosterone along with T-Mobile's Patrik Sinkewitz, Astana's Matthias Kessler, Caisse d'Epargne rider Marco Fertonani, and most famously, 2006 Tour champion Floyd Landis.

Millar Slipstreaming in National Colours

David Millar (Saunier Duval - Prodir)
Photo ©: Gerry McManus
(Click for larger image)

It's not often that we have cause to interview a rider so soon after the last time we spoke. For David Millar though, the last month or so have seen a great deal of activity, making it worthwhile catching up again. Cyclingnews' UK Editor, Ben Atkins, had a good long chat with the new British Champion.

Having been a professional in Europe since he was nineteen, Millar rarely has cause to race in his home country. The rescheduled British National championships proved to be an exception though, and victory gave him the first red white and blue jersey of his career. Millar normally misses the championships in favour of preparing for the Tour de France, but when flooding in northern England forced the postponement of the race, Millar had a perfect opportunity to capture the red, white and blue jersey. "It's something that I've wanted my whole career, you know, " Millar admitted. "I hardly ever race in the UK – and being recognised as the UK's best riders for quite a while now – it's nice to have some sort of symbolism that goes with that."

As one of the few riders clad in a ProTour team kit, Millar might as well have had a gigantic target painted on his back, and he found himself closely marked by the predominantly domestic peloton - something that happens quite a bit when successful UK riders come home, and a tactic that makes winning the race that much harder. "It was worse than ever this time, there was only really me and Jez [Jeremy Hunt, Unibet.com -ed.] there, so once Jez had gone – he was [up the road] in a group of seven – I basically just had the whole race watching me. But I kind of expected that," he continued, "it's just that it's a horrible race in that respect, it was just very hard, and hard psychologically as well.

"If it had been really hilly it would have been easier for me tactically, but I had to go really hard. It doesn't matter how strong you are, it's hard when you've got 110 guys against you."

Now he's added the national championships to his palmares, Millar is also keen to take advantage of the compulsory perk that it brings, namely parading the classic red, white and blue jersey around. "Yeah, it's a nice jersey and it hasn't been out there in the big races for a while." He said, perhaps forgetting Roger Hammond's third place in Paris – Roubaix while wearing it, not to mention that Nicole Cooke has been destroying all in her path while sporting the women's version. "It would be nice for it to be recognised again. Especially as it's kind of appropriate with me going to a new team as well; it's a nice fresh start."

Millar won't have to worry about the red, white and blue clashing with the bright yellow of his Saunier Duval kit for long, as it was recently announced that he will move over to the Professional Continental outfit Team Slipstream next season. With the move, he leaves the ranks of the ProTour and the security for racing all the big events that comes along with it. The decision might surprise a few, but Millar is confident in his decision. "What, a few months ago, would have been seen as a step down, now people are seeing as more a step sideways, in that the team is going to be, as its main ambition, the same as the ProTour teams – on a slightly smaller scale, but solely on numbers rather than actual quality."

It's not surprising that an outspoken anti-doper is joining an outspokenly antidoping team, and for Millar, the team's attitude was an important factor in making the switch. "The whole ethos of the team is a breath of fresh air," Millar explained, "and it's putting the words of the last couple of years that I've had into actions, which is a big deal for me."

To read the full feature, click here.

Award for Contador

By Monika Prell

Tour winner Alberto Contador will be awarded by the Superiour Council of Sports, according to Marca. Jaime Lissavezky, the Sports secretary of the State, confirmed that the 24-years old will receive the gold medal of sporting achievement. He communicated the news to Contador in an interview they made before Contador's press conference on Friday, where the young Spaniard insisted that he never had doped.

With the reception of this award. Contador will form part of the Royal Orden of Sportive earnings, like all Spanish Tour winners before him.

Court to rule Wednesday on Elk Haus

Team Elk Haus-Simplon was at the start of the first two stages of the Deutschland Tour, and can expect to start the next few stages, but it will head back to court on Wednesday to see how much longer that will apply. The "Landgericht" in Hamburg, Germany, will rule on the Tour's appeal of the preliminary injunction that allowed the Austrian team to start.

The Tour had issued Elk Haus a wildcard invitation, but rescinded the team's participation Tuesday, claiming the team had not fulfilled its paperwork conditions. Elk Haus obtained the preliminary injunction allowing it start.

Beltrán takes a break

By Monika Prell

Manuel Beltrán (Liquigas) had a hard Tour
Photo ©: Cyclingnews.com
(Click for larger image)

Liquigas' Spanish climber Manuel Beltrán will take a break until the Vuelta a Espańa that will begin on September 1 with a prologue in the Galician city of Vigo. The Liquigas rider, who finished 16th in last weekend’s Clásica San Sebastián, justified his decision: "The Tour de France was very hard and I prefer to recover and to train for the next races."

The cyclist from Jaén does not have any special objective for the Vuelta, where he finished sixth in 2003. "I would like to finish amongst the top ten, like in 2006, but it means hard work to stay with the best."

Beltrán, who just renewed his contract with the Italian Liquigas team until 2008, would like to see his compatriots José Luis Carrasco Gámiz and Manuel Ortega riding the Vuelta. Both are riders of Andalucía – Cajasur, a team that received a wildcard from Unipublic, the organisation of the Vuelta a Espańa. "It would be an excellent news that three of the four cyclists of Jaén would be together in the competition," affirmed Beltrán.

Schwartzkopf resigns from USA Cycling

USA Cycling's new Director of Sponsorship and Business Development, Jess Schwartzkopf, has resigned from his post, the organisation announced Friday. After having just started at the position in May, Schwartzkopf cited personal reasons as the impetus for his departure.

"I truly adore and highly respect USA Cycling and its mission to grow the sport I love so passionately," commented Schwartzkopf. "I have been honoured to work alongside some of the greatest contributors to the cycling industry and a phenomenal staff. I will greatly miss being a part of USA Cycling."

"I am obviously very sorry that Jess has decided to leave USA Cycling and return to his previous employer, commented Steve Johnson, USA Cycling's chief executive officer. "I know it was a tough choice for him, but I certainly understand and respect his decision and wish him well. Jess made a tremendous amount of progress in the time he was here and I am confident that his successor will be able to rapidly pick up where he left off."

USA Cycling will immediately begin its search for Schwartzkopf's replacement.

Wiggins and Millar in Premier Calendar finale

Bradley Wiggins (Cofidis) on a lone break in the Tour
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Bradley Wiggins (Cofidis) and David Millar (Saunier Duval-Prodir) will headline the 120-rider field competing in the final round of the British Cycling Premier Calendar series in the Tour of Pendle on Sunday 12th August.

Chris Newton (Recycling.co.uk) has already sewn up the series overall with consistent results throughout the year, which included winning 100 points for victory in the Ryedale GP. Newton has an unassailable 124 point lead over second placed Rob Sharman (KFS Special Vehicles).

The fight for second place is very tight with Sharman on 585 points, Gordon McCauley (Plowman Craven / Evans) 584 and Dean Downing (Rapha/Condor) 579.

Two riders have already been selected for the forthcoming world championships. Ian Wilkinson (ScienceinSport/Trek) rides for Team GB in the MTB Elite X Country world event in Fort William on September 9th and McCauley has just been confirmed for the New Zealand team where he will ride the time trial in the road championships in Germany.

Matt Stephens (Sigma Sport RT) is back on his bike following his crash on the finishing circuit in the British National Championships last weekend where he had been a central character for most of the event. The other key riders to watch for are Russell Downing (Team HealthNet – Maxxis), Lee Davis and Andy Roche (Pinarello RT) and the Rapha/Condor trio of Richard Wilkinson, Alex Higham and Matt Talbot. Malcolm Elliott (Pinarello RT) has not seemingly found the form that gave him victory in the Cicle Classic (Rutland to Melton) race earlier in the year but you can never rule out the seasoned professional.

Wiggins and Millar are ostensibly race favourites. Millar showed that he can simply ride away from the domestic field when he won the British title last weekend. Wiggins’s presence will add another dimension to the race. British cycle fans are expected to turn out in force to see the multiple world and Olympic track medallist battle with the former Tour de France yellow jersey wearer.

The field starts with three 28-mile laps around the famous Pendle hill before moving onto one lap of a finishing circuit in the provincial Lancashire town of Nelson to complete the 96-mile event in the pretty British countryside. The points for the king of the mountains competition will be won or lost on the two-mile climb on the road adjacent to Weets Hill beginning just past the village of Blacko on the big circuit. The race starts early at 09.30 outside Nelson Town Hall with the finish expected back in the town around 13.00. The event is generously sponsored by cottages4you.co.uk.

Team Lipton rider injured in collision with truck

By Nathan Carr

Geist attacks the field in Richmond
Photo ©: Emory Ball
(Click for larger image)

Kim Geist, a 20-year-old Olympic hopeful on Team Lipton, is recovering at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest after a collision with a tractor-trailer early this week. The Emmaus native suffered a broken pelvis, broken ribs, two collapsed lungs and several fractured vertebrae in the incident, but sources say her doctors expect her to make a recovery and she should return home sometime next week. No surgery will necessary, although one of her lungs is still being inflated artificially.

According to an article in Friday's Morning Call, Geist was riding on PA Route 100 Tuesday morning when a truck driven by Lee Reichwein, 41, of Locustdale, made a right turn in front of her. Geist struck the side of the cab, then, according to a friend, she curled into a ball as she fell under the truck's rear wheels, which rolled over her.

Cyclingnews' staff wishes speedy healing to this promising young rider.

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