First Edition Cycling News for August 23, 2007
Edited by Sue George
Rain influences Eneco opener
By Susan Westemeyer
Rain played a role in the outcome of the opener for the Eneco Tour of Benelux, a ProTour event that began Wednesday. The prologue started out dry after morning rains, but later, the rains rolled in, to dampen the spirits of about a third of the field. Many of the favorites, who raced late, opted for safety over speed and rode a conservative race.
Michiel Elijzen of Team Cofidis took advantage of an early start time and dry weather to win the 5.1km race in 6'09".
"I was very lucky, but my time was very strong," said the disbelieving Elijzen. "The circumstances were certainly favourable for me, because the favourites had to ride their time trial in the rain. But I still had a strong time, when you consider that Knaven and Flecha, who also had a dry course, were slower than me."
The 25 year-old rider is destined for Rabobank in 2008. "I still can't believe that I won," he said. "I don't win that much and if you can do that in a ProTour race that runs through your own country, then of course that is the best. Plus, this morning I signed my contract with Rabobank -- what a day!"
The course was full of curves and turns, 12 in all, with 11 of them being 90° corners. The heavy rain that came down late in the stage made it too dangerous for the riders to try anything fancy, and the wet pavement and puddles slowed them down, anyway.
Juan Antonio Flecha of Rabobank finished one second back in second place and Predictor-Lotto's Johan Van Summeren another second back in third. Thursday's 190km first stage stays in Belgium and ventures into the Ardennes. It is considered the most difficult stage of the race.
UCI stands behind ProTour, but will consider modifications
"We're prepared to discuss any aspect of the ProTour, always have been," McQuaid told the Associated Press. "We're prepared to renegotiate a number of technical aspects. But we're not prepared to discuss the basic principle of the ProTour. We won't do away with it."
McQuaid emphasized the importance of structure within a sport, especially for the most elite competition.
From its inception, the ProTour has attracted controversy, with some in favor and some opposed. In general, teams have supported it, in part because it helps get the best riders and teams to the highest profile events. Many riders have benefited, too, with rules like salary guarantees that reduce of the risk of racer being left unpaid should a team collapse part-way through the season.
Among the criticisms are too-large fields and simultaneous, conflicting events that limit opportunities for top pros to compete against each other.
The ProTour was drawn into the ongoing battle between the UCI and organizers of major races, like the Grand Tours. Contentious topics have included methods for anti-doping testing and the selection of ProTour and non-ProTour teams for events such as the Tour de France. The UCI directs that all ProTour teams start major events, but some organizers have invited top national-level teams in the place of certain ProTour teams.
Unibet was among the teams caught in the political battle. The squad was denied entry into all three Grand Tours even after a compromise agreement between the UCI and Grand Tour organizers decided the original 18 ProTour teams would be guaranteed entry while the remaining two ProTour squads (including Unibet) would be reasonably considered for wildcard spots. However, throughout the season, organizers often cited laws against foreign betting companies as a reason to exclude Unibet. After being denied entry in many major races, the team recently announced Unibet would not continue sponsorship, and the team would not continue in 2008.
McQuaid had harsh words for the AP about the conduct of the Grand Tour organizers. "In UCI's opinion, the organizers have not stuck to their word. They acted like a cartel in excluding Unibet. There were no legal restrictions in Italy, but they were left out of the Giro. The organizers didn't treat the agreement in an honorable way."
Astana, a team that was granted a ProTour license late last year, is facing a questionable future, and its ProTour license may be in jeopardy. The team has had several doping positives lately including Alexander Vinokourov and Andrej Kashechkin, both for (for blood doping), and Matthias Kessler (for testosterone) in the past three months. Astana withdrew from the Tour de France and was denied entry to the Vuelta a España.
Another ProTour team, Discovery Channel, which was not caught up in the power struggle, announced it would disband at the end of 2007 after it could not find a replacement for its title sponsor.
The swell of recent ProTour team news may provide just the impetus for the technical changes McQuaid mentioned.
T-Mobile and Pinotti renew for two years
By Gregor Brown
Marco Pinotti has signed off on a two year renewal with Germany-based Team T-Mobile. The contract renewal of the 31 year-old Italian who held the 2007 Giro d'Italia's Maglia Rosa for four stages continues the agreement with the team that was started at the end of the 2006 season.
"I've renewed with T-Mobile for two years," Pinotti confirmed on Wednesday to Cyclingnews. He has just come off of riding the Deutschland Tour and the Hamburg Cyclassics, building towards the Track Italian Championship for the individual pursuit.
"I haven't looked for other teams as I believe I could not find a better environment and ground to develop, and [to] go on with the values of a fair and clean sport." He came in second in the Giro's stage to Spoleto following an escape with Luis Felipe Laverde (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare). The gained time on that stage gave him the race lead that he went on to defend until the mountain-top finish on the Santuario Nostra Signora Della Guardia. "I am happy the way my season is going," he continued modestly.
The next big road appointment on the schedule of 'Ingegnere Pinotti' is the GP Plouay on September 2, however, in the meantime he hopes to have news of another victory. "I still have to race in Plouay and then Poland; in the upcoming days I hope to receive some news about the Italian Championship TT that I 'virtually' won if the positive case of Ascani is confirmed." Luca Ascani (Aurum Hotels) won the race on June 26 in Novi Ligure but later tested positive for EPO and the confirmed results should give Pinotti his second title in the event, his first was taken in 2005.
The time trial at the World Championships in Stuttgart will be next on Pinotti's schedule and due to his sponsor's base there is an extra motivation. "There are also the World Championship that I'd like to race; first because they take place in Germany and also after having some good time trials ... in Denmark and D-Tour."
Belda willing to leave Fuerteventura - Canarias
By Monika Prell
Unipublic, the organizers of the Vuelta a España, did not invite the team Fuerteventura - Canarias in part due to the presence of Vicente Belda. The ex-Sport director of the team Kelme-Costa Blanca has served this year as Sport Advisor of the new Fuerteventura - Canarias team.
Although they were not initially invited, Fuerteventura-Canarias still hoped to be allowed to compete after Astana was excluded, but Unipublic held firm. The team is disheartened by the decision, which may influence their sponsorship prospects going into 2008.
Belda, who is allegedly implicated in the Operación Puerto, declared to El Correo that he is willing to leave the team. He said he would let the team make a decision about the future of his involvement.
Fuerteventura-Canarias had hoped to open doors by participating in the Vuelta, but it seems unlikely that Unipublic will change its opinion at the last minute.
CONI sets next Di Luca hearing
The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) announced on its website Wednesday that Giro d'Italia winner Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) would next appear before them in an anti-doping hearing on Monday, September 3.
Efforts thus far to bring together key parties for a hearing failed this week. CONI cited the "particular complexity" of the case as a reason for more hearings and mentioned the receipt of documents from a court in Pescara that pertain to the case against Di Luca, who has maintained his innocence.
Predictor-Lotto signs Gardeyn
Gorik Gardeyn will ride next year for the Predictor-Lotto Team. According to Belga, the rider has a verbal agreement with the Belgian team for 2008.
Gardeyn has ridden for Unibet and its predecessor Mr. Bookmaker for three seasons, but the team will be disbanding for 2008. Gardeyn won stage two of the Tour of Belgium this year.
Cyclingnews previously reported that the rider was in the enviable position of having to chose from several offers including those of
Mark Scanlon cited business interests and a preference to live in Sligo as two reasons for his upcoming retirement from cycling according to RTE Sport.
The 26 year-old Irish professional drew worldwide notice in 1998 when he won the Junior Worlds race. He spent 2007 racing the US circuit with Toyota United after four years based in Europe on the AG2R Prévoyance squad.
Scanlon has been openly against doping, and that may been another reason for retirement. "When you see donkeys performing like racehorses and knowing they're drugged you realise it's all a waste of time," said Scanlon according to RTE Sport.
Quick.Step-Innergetic for Vuelta
Quick.Step-Innergetic announced its roster for the Vuelta a España. The team will be lead by directors Wilfried Peeters and Luca Guercilena.
Quick.Step-Innergetic for Vuelta: Carlos Barredo, Paolo Bettini, Tom Boonen, Addy Engels, Juan Manuel Garate, Kevin Hulsmans, Andrea Tonti, Davide Viganò, and Geert Verheyen.
Track season to wrap up in Lehigh Valley with Madison Cup
The Valley Preferred Cycling Center will host its final Friday night of racing for the season in Trexlertown, Pennsylvania.
The 31st Annual Madison Cup, the velodrome's longest running event, will draw over fifteen teams. The Australian duo of world champion Jeff Hopkins and partner Pete "Fitzy" Fitzpatrick will take to the track again this year against contenders such as Argentina's team of Gustavo Artacho and Alejandro Acton, Canada's Ryan McKenzie, Italy's Angelo Ciccone and Fabio Masotti, and Martin Gilbert, Trinidad Olympian Emile Abraham and partner Scott Swizanski.
Toyota United's Bobby Lea and partner Colby Pearce and Jackie Simes and two-time Madison Cup winner Ryan Oelkers are among those who will represent the US.
Sprint School 6 set for Newport International Velodrome
Newport's International Velodrome in Wales will host Sprint School 6 Friday, August 31. Throughout the season, Sprint School has been developing tomorrow's sprinters.
60 young cyclists from around the country assembled for Sprint School 5 on August 17. With riders Craig Maclean and Anna Blyth in attendance, the youngsters found it easy to learn and improved considerably while getting tips and advice from the Stars of cycling, as well as the coaches.
Besides serious track training, coaches set up a series of activities focusing on skills and knowledge. Games included bicycle limbo, sumo and collecting pound coins off the floor as well as practical bike maintenance lessons.
The velodrome will also host the "Future Revolution" on October 13 in conjunction with the successful Revolution events at the Manchester Velodrome. The Future Revolution will be focused on Junior racing but will also host an event for Sprint School members, allowing the riders to race in a competitive atmosphere and put into practice all the skills they have learned since February.
Roy on the road to recovery and a record
Matt Roy, the husband of cyclo-cross star Mo Bruno Roy is fast on his way to recovery after a tumultuous last two years.
16 months ago, he broke his femur in a criterium at Tufts University. The break was serious, requiring immediate surgical repair and hospitalization. Afterward, Roy needed a walker for six weeks, crutches for three months, and he endured fourteen months of physical therapy.
As a carrot to get him through the rehabilitation project, the PhD candidate in Immunology dreamed up an idea that became a mission for him: to set the first-ever cross-state cycling record for the state of Maine.
"Throughout my rehabilitation, and with the support of my wife, family, friends and graduate program, this goal remained my sole focus," said Roy. "For all of the support that I've had, I want to prove to everyone, myself especially, that I've made a spectacular comeback and with it, I will bring hope, inspiration and support to those who need it most."
On Saturday, in accordance with the rules and guidelines laid out by the UltraMarathon Cycling Association (UMCA), Roy will commence his solo journey in Fort Kent, on the border of Ontario, and travel south through the back roads of Maine, to Kittery, over 380 miles. Roy hopes to finish in less than 24 hours.
Roy is raising money to support a range of therapeutic recreational activities offered by the Dr. Charles H. Weingarten Adaptive Sports & Recreation Program, a division of the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. Roy is accepting donations at www.firstgiving.com/mattroy and www.bikereg.com/events/register.asp?eventid=5238.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2007)