Latest Cycling News for August 30, 2007
Edited by Gregor Brown
Spain reacts to UCI's ban of Valverde
By Monika Prell
Spanish national selector Francisco Antequera is very angry about the UCI's interdiction of Alejandro Valverde's participation in the World Championships (September 30), while the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) promised an analysis.
"It is barbarity!" Antequera said to AS. "I heard it from our press chief, because they announced it late, but if Valverde cannot ride this would mean a slap in the face of the entire team."
He defended the leader of the Spanish team. "Alejandro is not implicated in the Operación Puerto. Last year, the Superior Sport Council and the RFEC affirmed this, and they repeated it this year, because there was such a rumour about him. All other rumours are meant only to entangle Valverde in a case which is not like they say and meant to cause him damage.
"At this moment, we are the strongest team for the Worlds. With the absence of Valverde, the team will be paralysed, even if we still have the trump of [Oscar] Freire."
Antequera noted that the UCI is contradicting itself. Valverde "is a rider with a license from the UCI and who competed in the Tour de France," he said, according to Dario Vasco. "Now they can't say the contrary. This is a matter the RFEC and the Superior Sport Council will have to resolve, because some days ago, [Valverde] still had the right to ride and now he doesn't?"
(Read No EPO in Basso's blood bags but different for Valverde for more information on Valverde's alleged involvement in Puerto.)
RFEC will analyse
The RFEC released a communiqué in response to the UCI's call for disciplinary proceedings in the case of Valverde.
The communiqué affirmed that "The president of the RFEC conferred to the general secretary and legal advisor of the RFEC the detailed analysis of the mentioned documentation and all the contained data, and the RFEC won't speak officially until the end of the analysis."
RFEC's press release added, "at the end of the analysis, a communiqué will be released with the actions the RFEC will be specified."
Controversy over Zabel nomination
The vice president for communication and marketing of the Bund Deutscher Radfahrer (BDR - the German national federation) has quit in protest over the decision to nominate Erik Zabel to the preliminary team for the World Championships. The head of the World's organizing committee also criticized the nomination of the 37 year-old German who admitted to EPO usage in 1996. The Worlds are to be held in Stuttgart on September 30.
"I am very sorry to have to do this. But I can no longer credibly serve as vice president of communications for the federation if it follows the course presented by the president," Dieter Kühnle said, according to the sid agency. Federation President Rudolf Scharping had supported Zabel's nomination. Kühnle said that he was in favour of supporting a new generation of cyclists, but that this was opposed, especially by Scharping. "The BDR should have shown its courage, but this signal didn't occur."
"We are anything other than happy over this decision in favour of Zabel," Susanne Eisenmann, director of the Worlds organizing committee told the Stuttgart Zeitung. "In the light of a credible new beginning, you have to ask whether this was a clever decision. I personally don't think so."
There will be no action to exclude the German rider from participating, she said. "We have to accept it, and it will be up to the BDR as to how they present it to the public."
Dekker just hurt too much
Thomas Dekker of Team Rabobank just had too many aches and pains to do well in the Eneco Tour time trial and hold on to his leader's jersey. He was involved in the mass crash the previous day which eliminated the leader Nick Nuyens, and he had been having problems with his hip anyway.
"Such a blow costs a lot of energy; your body needs to recover. I feel very tired because of that. And besides, my hip was not the only thing that hurt today," he said on the team's website, rabobank.nl.
The 22 year-old knew that it would be difficult under any circumstances, since the rest of the top five was no more than 27 seconds behind him and all are time trial specialists. He said that he rested well, "but I could not get myself going again. And there is nothing to lean on during the race; you have to do it all by yourself. The morale was worse than it usually is, as well." Dekker ended the day in 21st place and dropped to fifth overall.
Directeur Sportif Erik Dekker was not unhappy with the youngster. "This performance is obviously unworthy of Thomas, but the blame for that falls totally on the bad day we had yesterday with that crash. What I saw today is what I feared yesterday. It did not work because the hip is, after all, the pivoting point between the legs and back. So, I can easily understand that he could not deliver a good time trial."
Laverde's win helps sponsor search; Di Luca builds
Luis Felipe Laverde of Ceramica Panaria-Navigare took another big win this season while helping General Manager Roberto Reverberi find a new sponsor. The 28 year-old Colombian won from a small sprint in the 10th GP Nobili, adding to his previous win this year in stage six of the Giro d'Italia.
The 13th team win for 2007 will give Reverberi the boost he needs after the announcement that Ceramica Panaria would step aside in its role as a sponsor. It is expected that he will announce a new sponsor in the coming weeks that will join with Navigare.
Trailing behind Laverde was another Colombian, Félix Rafael Cárdenas (Barloworld). Austrian Christian Pfannberger (Elk Haus-Simplon) and Swede Niklas Axelsson (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Selle Italia) finished in third and fourth. Moments later, the group was led by recent winner of the Giro del Lazio, Gabriele Bosisio (Tenax-Salmilano). Further back was a larger group containing riders such as Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas).
"I am content," said Di Luca to La Gazzetta dello Sport after the day's racing. "I am starting to see the fruits of my work that was done at home in the last week. I want to give [National Directeur Sportif Franco] Ballerini the signs that he has asked for."
Ballerini will select the nine men that will form the Squadra Azzurra for the World Championships on September 17. "It is a step ahead. ... But he has to keep rising," responded Ballerini.
Hulsmans extends with Quick.Step
Kevin Hulsmans has extended with Team Quick.Step-Innergetic. "I will ride another season with my current team," he announced on his website. The 31 year-old, a close friend of Tom Boonen, turned pro with Quick.Step in 2000. He is scheduled to ride the Vuelta a España starting Saturday.
Mattan retiring with a bang
By Paul Verkuylen
Nico Mattan (DFL-Cyclingnews.com) has decided to bring his career to an end after 13 years as a professional and 12 wins. Mattan began his career in 1994 with Lotto as a domestique for his good friend, Frank Vandenbroucke.
In 1999, the same year he finished for the first time on the podium in Gent-Wevelgem, he was forced to temporarily end his career due to a heart condition. After a trip to the USA, Mattan was given the thumbs up to return to the professional ranks and quickly re-established himself with two wins in 2000.
Known as a Classics specialist, Mattan defined his career around the Spring Classics. Although he never won a Tour de Flanders or a Paris-Roubaix, Mattan was one of the most well respected Classics riders of his generation, and capped his classics career off in 2005 with a win in the semi-classic Gent-Wevelgem, traditionally run on the Wednesday between Flanders and Roubaix. His highest finish in Flanders was fifth (2003) and ninth in Paris-Roubaix (2002). Other highlights of his career were two wins in the prologue of Paris–Nice (2001, 2003).
Over the years Mattan has always enjoyed passing on his knowledge to younger riders. In 2004 he spent a season as captain of the Relax Bodysol team, which was set up as a development squad by Patrick Lefevere, but due to a conflict of interest, the parent company Omega Pharma was also sponsor of Quick.Step-Davitamon, the team folded at the end of the year. Mattan spent the following two seasons riding for Davitamon-Lotto before again opting to take a leadership/guidance role with the DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed squad for his final season. His experience and knowledge of the Spring Classics were a major factor for the team's strong showing in races such as Gent-Wevelgem this year.
To celebrate his career, the Nico Mattan fan club has organised a farewell celebration in the Belgian town of St Eloois Winkel on Sunday, October 7. The festivities include a two-up time trial as well as a "Gentleman's race" before a party continues with DJ's and lots of Belgian beer. More information on the celebrations can be found at the official website.
Euskaltel-Euskadi's Zubeldia works for Sánchez in Vuelta
By Monika Prell
After a remarkable Tour de France, in which he finished fifth, Haimar Zubeldia will compete the Vuelta a España, but under other conditions. While the Euskaltel-Euskadi rider was the team's leader in the Tour de France, in the Vuelta he will work for Samuel Sánchez.
"The leader of the team is Samuel, who has prepared specifically for the Vuelta," said Zubeldia in an interview with Dario Vasco. "He has already showed last year that he is a rider who is able to have great form in September. In [the Vuelta a] Burgos, he had a good performance, and he surely will be in front. Generally, we will try to maintain the same line the team maintains during the rest of the year. We intend to be in breakaways. The season still is not finished."
After the Tour de France and the Clásica San Sebastián, Zubeldia's programme to prepare for the Vuelta was clearly spelled out. "The second week of August was one-half of a rest period. In the third week I trained really hard, and the fourth week was dedicated to recuperation." He trained together with the team-mates Markel Irizar and Andoni Aranaga in the Pyrenees.
Zubeldia sees the Lagos de Covadonga stage as likely to be decisive in the general classification. "In Asturias, we will see who is in form to win and who is not. The race, in general, seems very open to me, even if you are well prepared at the start, because Lagos will be important. Later on, there are many mountains, with the Cerler, Ordino and Abantos."
Zubeldia outlined the strategy within his team. "[Iñigo] Landaluze will aim for a stage victory. [Iñaki] Isasi is an important man for the team. About Igor Antón, we will have to see how he recuperated from the Tour. I think that you have to leave him alone. Aitor Hernández, Alan Pérez, Koldo Fernández, Dionisio Galparsoro are riders who are really motivated. We will be a team that will show itself. We will fight and we aim for doing our best."
Guerini leads T-Mobile in final race
Giuseppe Guerini will ride his final race as a professional in the Vuelta a España, starting Saturday.
"I will try to give it my best shot, as always. And I am really determined to make my mark on the race," the 37 year-old of T-Mobile said via his team's website. "I will target a stage win from a breakaway group so that I can sign off in style."
While the team's main focus will be on stage wins, Australian rider Adam Hansen will be the team's "joker."
"Adam has a free card to plan on the GC," said Directeur Sportif Alan Peiper. "He was riding strongly at the Eneco Tour before dropping out and let's see how he goes over the climbs and in the time trials."
The two will be supported by Scott Davis, Andreas Klier, Bert Grabsch, Stephen Schreck, André Greipel, André Korff and Lorenzo Bernucci.
Milram for GP Plouay
On Sunday, Milram will start eight riders at the 217-kilometre GP Plouay, run throughout Brittany. The team will be supported by Mirko Celestino in the one day ProTour race. Celestino recently showed his good form at the Eneco Tour.
Milram for GP Plouay will be Mirko Celestino, Alessandro Cortinovis, Andriy Grivko, Christian Knees, Mirco Lorenzetto, Fabio Sacchi, Carlo Scognamiglio, Sergio Ghisalberti
Liquigas for Giro del Veneto and GP Plouay
The Liquigas team will field a team not only at the Vuelta a España starting this weekend, but also at the Giro del Veneto on Saturday and the GP Plouay on Sunday.
In Veneto, Luca Paolini, who finished fourth at the Coppa Bernocchi, will lead the team. He'll be joined by Kjell Carlström, Dario Cataldo, Francesco Failli, Aleksandr Kuschynski, Matej Mugerli, Andrea Noè and Alessandro Spezialetti. Dario Mariuzzo will serve as team manager.
At the GP Plouay, the stars will be there for the team including Danilo Di Luca, Filippo Pozzato and Vincenzo Nibali. They'll be joined by Enrico Gasparotto, Manuel Quinziato, Michael Albasini, Murilo Fischer and Frederik Willems.
Teams line up for women's races
Two more important races are on tap for the women's circuit, the World Cup race in Plouay, France, on Saturday, followed by the Holland Ladies Tour, September 3-8.
"These are two very important races for us," especially in light of the season finale, the World Cup race Rund um den Nürnberg Altstadt, said Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung Sport Director Jens Zemke. His team will feature two former winners of the race, Regina Schleicher (2002) and Edita Pucinskaite (2004). They will be joined by Trixi Worrack, Andrea Graus and Eva Lutz.
For the Holland race, Charlotte Becker and Marie Lindberg will replace Pucinskaite and Lutz.
Team Getränke Hoffman will also be at the races. Tina Liebig and Angela Brodtka will lead the team in France. "I don't know the course, but in light of my good level of performance the last few weeks, I am highly motivated to do well in France," Brodtka said. They will be joined by Natalie Bates, Virginia Henning and Sandra Missbach.
Two days later, Christina Becker, Sandra Missbach, Angela Brodtka, Steffi Pohl, Tina Liebig and Virginia Henning will ride the Holland Ladies Tour.
Changes for Skil-Shimano
Dutch Professional Continental Team Skil-Shimano will lose two riders for the coming season, in what may be the first steps in a restructuring of the team. Maarten Tjallingii has signed with Predictor-Lotto, and Aart Vierhouten has not been offered a new contract.
Team Director Rudi Kemmna confirmed to Sportwereld that Tjallingii, who finished 16th in the Eneco Tour, has signed a one-year contract with Predictor. "I have completed my learning process at Skil-Shimano. Now I want to continue growing at a ProTour team," the Dutchman said.
Tjallingii, 29, was very active in the Eneco Tour, especially in the sixth stage.
Vierhouten, 37, rode for the team for two years, but will not be offered a new contract. The Dutch TV sender NOS reported that sponsor Shimano wanted more space on the team for Asian riders. Vierhouten turned pro in 1996, riding for Rabobank and Lotto before signing with Skil-Shimano.
The team also recently rescinded its contract with German rider Christian Müller.
Twilight series kicks off in September
Racing on the Infineon Raceway road course will continue for the fourth consecutive year on September 4 in Sonoma, California. Racers will convene Tuesday evenings in September to compete on the 12-turn, 2.52 mile road course, featuring one tough climb and a hairpin turn. The Twilight Race Series will run September 4, 11, 18 and 25, with registration opening at 17:00 and racing starting at 18:00.
Days left to join Fantasy Vuelta 2007
There's still time to join the Fantasy La Vuelta Game - create your teams now and win some amazing prizes! You can enter new teams until Stage 4 begins (10:00 UTC/GMT+2 Tuesday, September 4).
Choosing your Mountains and Sprints Riders
In what's set to be an interesting race following the events of this summer picking your team of 15 riders couldn't be more challenging. If you are relatively new to the Grande Tours it can be a daunting prospect choosing your 15 riders from Saturday's start list of over 200 riders. You need to choose your riders carefully for all four elements of the game. The new ranking system can tell you some of the answers you need to know based on last year's results. Here's some direct links to real life riders that scored well in the 2006 Vuelta Fantasy Game:
Rider list updated
The official La Vuelta rider list has been uploaded today with the latest additions so you can begin selecting your winning teams. You can see this list in full on the Top Riders page or download this list in Excel Spreadsheet format.
We've added some great improvements to the game this year:
We will shortly be announcing the major prizes in this year's game. So far we have announced some great prizes from from Speedplay, Giro, Udderly SMOOth, Maxxis, and 21 daily prizes from BBB. Keep an eye on the site in the next few days for the announcement of the Grande Prize, and the major runners-up prizes. Find out more here.
What is Fantasy Vuelta all about?
The online game allows you to assume the role of a professional team manager for the 2007 Vuelta and create your own dream team from any of the real life riders in this year's Vuelta. Based on the live racing action, you will take up the challenge of using your knowledge and tactical skill as a race team manager to compete with other virtual managers from around the world. Follow the races live and use your skill and knowledge to win some great prizes. Remember you can still enter teams until Stage 4 begins. You can re-edit and re-enter teams for Stages 1-3 of the Vuelta 2007 competition up until Stage 4 begins. Unlike most Fantasy games, this gives you the chance to try out the game for free and experiment with different strategies without having to pay for mistakes. If you join the Vuelta after the start date you can still take part with just as good a chance of winning as a manager who joined before stage 1. Try out a team today!
Play for free
Remember you can play for free for the first four stages. Try your teams out and see which rider combinations work out best. We hope you enjoy this year's game and look forward to seeing your winning team online soon.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2007)