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Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News for August 13, 2007

Edited by Bjorn Haake

McQuaid responds to Discovery decision

By Shane Stokes

Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

Friday's announcement by Tailwind Sports that the company had given up hope of finding a replacement sponsor for Discovery Channel means that their ProTour slot is potentially up for grabs. UCI President Pat McQuaid has said that a decision will be made on it by the ProTour Council (CUPT - Conseil UCI ProTour), but it appears that it may indeed enable another team to step in if the demand is there.

"It is up to the CUPT to decide when they meet in September, if they decide to take a strategic decision in relation to it," he said on Saturday. "If the license does become available, that would mean that it would be available for other potential ProTour teams to apply for it. There is a process in place at the moment; there are some licenses up for renewal at the end of this year, and there would be applications for those licenses. This would make another opportunity."

McQuaid stated that losing a US team from the sport is not the ideal situation, with regards to the globalisation and growth of cycling. He said that he didn't feel that the controversial decision to sign Ivan Basso [plus the resulting negative publicity the team earned when the Italian was banned] was a crucial factor in not getting a replacement.

"I think the Basso situation was a strategic error on their part, but I don't necessarily think that it impacted on their ability to find a new sponsor. According to what I read, they did have a sponsor and were 90% ready to roll, but then when they examined the scenario within the sport, they decided not to do it.

"That aspect of it is worrying for me and for the UCI, because you are looking at a team that adds an international perspective to the sport not continuing, because they see the resistance to the sport going completely international and global. That is a worry."

The team took first and third overall in the Tour de France this year but in not being able to clinch a new deal, it illustrates the precarious situation cycling is in now. The ongoing doping crises plus the general uncertainty about the future of the sport due to the various political struggles mean that sponsors are more likely to be nervous about becoming involved. McQuaid said that riders need to pay heed to this in order to ensure the development of cycling.

"The Discovery situation should be a wake-up call to riders [on other teams] that they cannot take sponsors for granted. Sponsors won't necessarily stay in the sport, even though we did get good news yesterday with regards to T-Mobile and Milram. But by the same token, Discovery are going. An American team is important aspect of cycling, they are very relevant to cycling, but they are leaving.

"The fact that such a big sponsor is leaving and another is not stepping in shows that riders should think about the future for teams and their own future," he said, referring to the fact that there is not currently a big queue of new companies trying to get in. "Those that are there should not get into doping or anything like that, because that is one of the biggest threats [to sponsorship]."

Discovery's absence would mean that the sport would be without a US ProTour team. However, while McQuaid said that Slipstream/Chipotle are considering its way forward, he seems to play down the possibility that it might step up to that level in 2008 rather than 2009, as originally envisaged.

"I don't know if it could happen. I have had discussions with them, they are thinking about it. It wasn't in their original plan to go through [and apply] this year, they were certainly going to go for it next year. They think it might be a bit soon, the learning curve might be a bit steep if they were to apply for it this year."

Astana out of the Vuelta

Vuelta a España organizer Unipublic has revoked the invitation to team Astana for the final Grand Tour of this year. Unipublic announced that following the doping cases of Matthias Kessler for testosterone and Alexander Vinokourov and Andrey Kashechkin for blood doping it decided that Astana would not be welcome at the start.

Currently Astana is taking the month off, required under UCI's Code of Ethics, following three positive test cases in a 24 month period. This is another blow to the team that may be on the brink.

Astana responded in a press release that they deeply regretted the decision. The team will cancel the planned training camp with immediate effect.

T-Mobile riders agree with sponsor's measures

The riders of the T-Mobile team have welcomed the additional steps required by their sponsor, which do not extend to the women's team. The biggest change is giving up part of their salaries, which will be funneled towards the fight against doping. Team spokesperson Stefan Wagner told Cyclingnews that the riders were already debating during the Tour, right after the Patrik Sinkewitz case became known, to see what needs to be done.

Some thought it would be the end of the team. "I called Andreas Klier and told him while he was in a training camp and he thought that was it," Wagner elaborated.

By adding more money to the general doping tests this will be helpful to catch anyone, even if some teams are doing less than their share in the fight against doping. Wagner said that it wasn't so much an issue of UCI vs. AIGCP vs. WADA as much as for the teams and riders going at it and cleaning up. As Discovery Channel had shown, more scandals mean less chances to attract new sponsors.

Christian Frommert, T-Mobile's manager of sponsoring communication, told Cyclingnews that while any sport needs to seriously tackle the doping problem, cycling "has lost most, if not all, credibility, and has to be a role model in the fight against doping."

Frommert also indicated that the stock holders and employee's (those that are not necessarily sports fans) reactions to the recent doping cases is a mirror of the public debate. "Agreement, refusal, skepticism, criticism, praise. Sport is a part of society and mirrors its problems."

Milram's "perfect day"

Erik Zabel (Milram)
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

Team Milram had many reasons to celebrate "a perfect day" at the end of the third stage of the Deutschland Tour Sunday. It was probably not so big a surprise that Erik Zabel won the stage and took over the sprinter's jersey. But going into the day, no one would have expected time trial specialist Niki Terpstra to take over the lead in the mountain ranking.

"It was a very good day," said the 37-year-old Zabel, who won his thirteenth Deutschland Tour stage. "I felt good underway. "I oriented myself on Gerald Ciolek the last two or three kilometres, because I had the feeling that T-Mobile with its four or five riders would be in the position to prepare the sprint. In the end I had a little luck and a little intuition, that it would work out. 250 meters before the finish line I still had the feeling that I was boxed in, was still on the rear wheel of José Joaquín Rojas of Caisse d'Epargne and actually just tried to get my front wheel free and find a hole."

"That with the points jersey is great, of course," he continued, on the team's website, "Clearly I wouldn't have anything against the idea of wearing it to Hannover and winning it in the end. But there is a whole week of work in front of us. We have to look from day to day."

And how important was this win, in the overall scheme of things? "Whether that was my 199th or 200th win in my career? I don't think anybody really cares, that is more a personal thing."

His younger team-mate, the 23 year-old Dutchman Terpstra, broke away with Christian Leben of Team Wiesenhof after only 15 km. When they hit the Allerheiligen, a Cat. 1 climb, the German couldn't keep up, and Terpstra won the climb and continued on alone. He was also able to take the points on the second Cat. 1 climb, thus assuring himself of the mountain jersey. When he was caught by the first chasers, he bravely hung on until it all came back together and managed to finish only 1'3" down, in the second large group.

"I wanted to try it today," he said. "At first I was alone. When I heard that someone was coming up from behind, I waited. After all, there was still a long way to go."

"But I didn't have any illusions about the stage win. I knew that CSC would control things. But I speculated on the mountain jersey. I want to defend is as long as possible." It wasn't' all that easy for the young man, though. "At the end, it was just pain."

Terpstra looks ahead

Photo ©: Nikki & Brian O'Connor
(Click for larger image)

Niki Terpstra (Milram) had a great race yesterday and secured the mountain's jersey by riding solo across both category one climbs ahead of the rest of the pack. On his team's website,, the Dutchman stated that it will be a hard and that he didn't know the stage at all, including the final climb, over 1400 metres high and only 15 kilometres from the finish.

His expectations were that "it will be similar to stage 3, with a small group going and CSC controlling. If I have good legs I may try for some mountain points at the first climb." With the last KOM close to the finish Terpstra expects a very hard hill, no matter how steep the climb. "Some probably will get away and compete for the victory."

Moreni not happy with sentence

Cofidis' Cristian Moreni
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Cristian Moreni (Cofidis), who was handed a two-year suspension following his positive test for testosterone, declared to French paper Journal du Dimanche that he had a hard time accepting the ban. "It is like giving the same sentence to someone who stole an apple and to someone who robbed a bank," the Italian declared in light of the fact that riders caught for blood doping got the same suspension.

"I did not want to dope," the former Cofidis rider declared and emphasized that to him, not riding at l'eau claire ('clean water' or drug-free) is taking illegal substances such as EPO, growth hormones or testosterone. "I have bought a plant-based paste over the internet to stimulate the natural production of testosterone. I wasn't aware that I could have a problem with the doping control. For me, it was like taking amino acids or protein. I know many riders who take it."

The Italian, who acknowledged that he made a costly mistake, added that he had other products with him that the police seized. Tribulus terrestris (a plant to enhance sports performances as well as the love life), Andro Max (a testosterone booster) and a corticoid-based paste, which Moreni had "not opened and for which I had a prescription."

Klöden can hope for Worlds

While the German cycling federation (BDR) will discuss the case of Erik Zabel's participation of this year's Worlds on August 29, BDR Sports Director Burckhard Bremer told sid that the chances for Andreas Klöden are good, despite his team Astana having several doping cases in the last few weeks.

Bremer said that the bigger problem is that "Klöden is not racing right now." The sports director indicated that the federation will check on "what preparation they had, which races they did and if the riders are motivated."

Klöden in the mean time wrote on his website, that he just didn't understand why racers are still trying to cheat. He still wanted to be fair and wait for the B sample analysis of team-mate Andrey Kashechkin, but realized that cycling is in the dumps and the dopers are still acting like nothing happened.

He changed his plan and is not participating in the Astana training camp. Instead he will prepare for the Worlds with his coach, Thomas Schediwie.

"I will have to talk about my future with the management and will of course subject myself to all the team's medical and physiological tests."

Two Aussies top in Route de France féminine

Australian Richelle Gilmore, riding for the Italian Selle Italia outfit, has won the first stage of the Route de France féminine. The regular Cyclingnews diarist, who recently also won in Germany, outsprinted compatriot Belinda Goss, who is riding for the Australian national team. Many spectators came out to see the exciting finish sprint, which was slightly uphill. Gilmore won with more than a bike length. Goss in second also was well clear of Russian Svetlana Bubnenkova, who came in third.

After the prologue and stage one the overall on the other hand is dominated by the Americans, with Kori Seehafer leading and Amber Neben in third, both part of the US national team.

The race continues until August 18.

Botero wins the big one

Santiago Botero
Photo ©: Luis Barbosa
(Click for larger image)

Santiago Botero had hoped to ride the Tour de France this year, but after being named in the Fuentes affair and fired by Team Phonak, he was unable to find a new European team, even though the Columbian cycling federation cleared him of all charges. So he stayed home in South America and this past weekend won his homeland Tour of Colombia.

"It was the one crown missing from my resume and the focus of my training all year," the 34 year-old told AP. He rides for the local UNE-Orbitel team.

Botero dominated the race, winning three stages and wearing the leader's jersey for all but three of the race's 15 stages. He won the closing time trial through downtown by Bogota by 1'31", and took the overall win by 4'45".

Timbercorp Australian Cycling Grand Prix

Reigning Australian Road Cycling champion Darren Lapthorne will return to the scene of his greatest triumph when the Timbercorp Cup National Series continues this weekend as part of the Australian Cycling Grand Prix. Lapthorne won the national title on the tough Buninyong circuit outside of Ballarat in January this year and will be the nominal favourite in the field of 100 for the third leg of the ACGP.

The three day Grand Prix series starts on August 17 with individual time trials in Learmonth, followed by criterium street racing in Ballarat on Saturday before Sunday’s grueling 153 kilometre road classic. The Buninyong route is well known in cycling circles and has been used in previous major events.

Queensland’s Grant Irwin is currently second in the Timbercorp Cup National Series, which started earlier this month with the Tour of Gippsland, four points shy of Zak Dempster (Vic). Dempster headed overseas last week for the World Under 23 Championships and will almost certainly lose his grip on the Timbercorp lead. Dempster won last year's ACGP Time Trial from David Pell and Mitch Docker and the latter two riders are expected to clinch victory on Friday. Docker was the best overall rider in last year's ACGP after his third placing in the ITT, second in the criterium and a fourth in the road race.

More than 320 entries have been received for the ACGP events, with Kathy Watt headlining the female races. But the former Australian Olympian won't have everything her own way, particularly in the criterium where young Victorian Jessica Berry will start as defending champion.

Another young rider to watch will be Tasmanian Grace Sulzberger, little sister of topliners Bernard and Wesley Sulzberger, both former winners of the Sid Patterson Young Rider of the Future award.

The Timbercorp Cup National Series has replaced – in name only – the 11 year-old Tattersall's Cup and the modified points scoring system includes the Tour of Gippsland, the ACGP, Tour of the Murray River (August 26 – September 2) and the Tour of Tasmania (October 2-7). Seven of the current top 12 riders in the series have entered for the Ballarat action, including Grant Irwin, Chris Jory, Patrick Shaw, Peter McDonald, Ben Mather, Steven Robb and Nicholas Sanderson.

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