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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for August 31, 2007

Edited by Laura Weislo

Klöden injured as Astana returns to racing

Klöden prepares
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Team Astana is returning to racing action this weekend following its self-imposed hiatus after the blood doping positives of Alexander Vinokourov and Andrei Kashechkin, but it may have to go without its star rider, Andreas Klöden, who was injured in a training accident on Thursday.

The team will take part in two races on Sunday the GP Ouest France-Plouay in France and the GP Jef Scherens in Belgium. "The riders will have the heart to show that their team is not finished and and that the bad reputation of some of the riders should not overflow on to them," a team statement read.

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Andreas Klöden was to have been the team's captain for the GP Plouay, however an accident during training on Thursday has put his participation in question. Klöden ran into trouble with "a car [which] didn't respect the right of way on the road", according to a team statement, and hurt his hand and hip, but did not break any bones. The race is an important part of Klöden's preparation for the World Championships in Stuttgart, and he hopes to be at the start on Sunday, but will make a final decision on Friday.

Should Klöden race, he will be supported by Assan Bazayev, Koen De Koert, Thomas Frei, Maxim Iglinsky, Andrej Misurov, Steve Morabito, and Gregory Rast.

In the GP Jef Scherens, Rene Haselbacher will lead a sprint-focused team of Maxim Gourov, Sergei Ivanov, Benoit Joachim, Aaron Kemps, Gennady Mikhailov, Dimitri Muravyev and Michel Schär.

Unipublic objects to Valverde's treatment

Ignacio Ayuso
Photo ©: AFP
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Vuelta a Espańa organiser Unipublic's president Ignacio Ayuso expressed his objection to the formal investigation of Alejandro Valverde by the UCI, calling the sudden decision by the sport's governing body a "provocation". After more than a year of rumour and speculation over Valverde's alleged involvement in the Operación Puerto doping scandal, the UCI finally was able to more closely examine the 6,000 page dossier and decided on Wednesday to impose a ban on the Spaniard's participation at the World Championships.

Ayuso called the decision "inopportune", adding that Valverde was allowed to race the Tour de France but is now suddenly implicated in the scandal, "This sounds like a joke, and it seems like a provocation to me. The UCI does not have different information from those of the Guardia Civil. It is indignant that they leave this until two days before the Vuelta," he told EFE.

Ayuso, however, made it clear that cleaning up the sport is of utmost importance to his organisation despite his objections to the case of Valverde. "We have put in economic means to avoid the problem, but the issue of applying the laws and sanctions belongs to others. In this fight we go hand in hand with the UCI, the CSD, the teams and the AMA. We want to be serious against doping," he said.

After a Tour de France riddled with doping scandals, Unipublic is hopeful that the sport will outshine the darker side of the sport once more during the Vuelta. "The cheaters do not have the right to be in the race," Ayuso assured. "We want to see the appearance of cycling in the Vuelta. We will speak of cycling, of sport and not ambushes."

The Spanish Tour starts on Saturday, and the riders are already preparing for the start in Vigo. "At the moment all is well", said the president of Unipublic after word came that all 189 participants have been blood tested and declared fit to start by the UCI.

Sastre reacts to Valverde's ban

Carlos Sastre (CSC)
Photo ©: Unipublic
(Click for larger image)

As Carlos Sastre prepares to take on his second Grand Tour of the year, the CSC rider took time to chat with EFE Radio about the news that the UCI has opened a formal investigation of his compatriot Alejandro Valverde. Sastre was concerned with the news, especially with the fact that the UCI could stop Valverde from racing in the absence of any positive test - simply on speculation alone.

"There are things that you do not understand - we all followed the business of Operación Puerto without understanding it," Sastre said. "The important thing is that they look for a solution, one that is of real benefit to the sport in general, not just for cycling. The truth is that to blame people without having tests is hard," but he acknowledged that he wasn't extremely familiar with the process.

Sastre was critical of the publicity surrounding the case, which has damaged the credibility of the sport and to the riders. He indicated that the allegations might not turn out to be correct, in which case the riders encounter backwards justice from the normal 'innocent until proven guilty' - but it's not possible to get back what was taken away after one's reputation has been destroyed.

The 32 year-old prefers to think about the upcoming race, and is hopeful that he has recovered well from the Tour de France, where he finished one step off the podium. He is looking forward to the Vuelta a Espańa which, in his words, "has just a little bit of everything," indicating that he likes the stages where the mountains come one after another, especially the stages following the first time trial to Zaragoza. With many of the difficulties early in the race, Sastre summarised, "It is a route that is almost going to maintain the classification intact until the end of the race."

Italians federation supports the UCI

Italian cycling federation (FCI) president Renato Di Rocco added his support to the UCI's decision to open an investigation into Alejandro Valverde's alleged involvement in Operación Puerto. According to the Spanish daily Marca, Di Rocco said "At this time the UCI is taking serious measures after more than a year from the [start] of Operación Puerto. I hope they pursue this with as much rigor with the other 47 implied athletes."

The UCI requested on Wednesday that the Spanish cycling federation (RFEC) initiate a disciplinary investigation into Valverde's involvement in the doping scandal, and the RFEC is considering. Di Rocco said that justice in the case had been "delayed by the great amount of documents that there are to examine", but indicated that "there are strong signals of a will to clean up cycling that must affect all of its facets."

Contrary to Di Rocco's support, Italian National selector Franco Ballerini did not find joy in the situation, and only hoped that "the truth prevails". Giro d'Italia winner Danilo Di Luca, who has faced his own long and drawn out investigation by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) in the 'oil for drugs' case, described the request by the UCI as a "radical action".

Empathetic to Valverde's situation, Di Luca added, "To eliminate the one of the favourites to win the World Championship a month before his main objective of the season, and requesting the opening of an investigation by the Spanish Cycling Federation represents a radical action," affirmed Di Luca.

DI Luca, who endured a four year investigation in the 'oil for drugs' case, in which he was finally cleared on July 12, faces a hearing on September 3 for a new investigation allegedly involving bags of Di Luca's blood.

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'

May 18, 2009 - Valverde to start Catalunya
May 15, 2009 - Valverde not welcome in Denmark
May 14, 2009 - Spanish federation wants proof in Valverde case
May 13, 2009 - Spanish Olympic Committee defends Valverde
May 12, 2009 - Valverde responds to sanction
May 11, 2009 - Italian tribunal delivers Valverde two-year suspension
May 8, 2009 - Valverde case: Italian Olympic Committee defends Torri
May 7, 2009 - Valverde to take legal action against CONI prosecutor
May 5, 2009 - WADA and Spanish federation join CONI and UCI on Valverde
May 1, 2009 - International Cycling Union joins in on Valverde's hearing in Italy

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of Operación Puerto

No GP Plouay for Valverde

Following the UCI's announcement that they have opened an investigation into his involvement in Operación Puerto, Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) will not take part in Sunday's GP Ouest France Plouay, according to AFP. The rider was to use the event as preparation for the World Championships, but now that he has been barred from racing that event, he will not participate in the French race.

Ullrich appears at Eurobike

Ullrich made an appearance
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Jan Ullrich, the fallen star of German cycling, made a rare public appearance at the Eurobike show in Friedrichshafen to promote a line of clothing, but refused to be coerced into speaking about the doping accusations which spelled an early end to his cycling career. Ullrich, who was implicated in Operación Puerto, was hounded by German investigators until DNA tests allegedly linked the former Tour de France champion directly to bags of blood seized in the affair.

The 33 year-old staunchly refused to be drawn into a conversation about his case with the media. "If I had to say something on these accusations," he told AFP, "I, myself, would choose the media and the date to speak."

Ullrich will appear daily at the stand of the X-BIONIC company, according to his website, He is scheduled to attend at 11:00 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and again at 15:00 on Saturday and Sunday.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by AFP Photo

Kelly Benefit Strategies for USA Championships

Coming off of a stellar win in the USPro Criterium championships, the Kelly Benefits Strategies/Medifast team is gunning for this weekend's USA Cycling Professional Road Championships. The team's roster will see the much anticipated return of TT and Road Race specialist Reid Mumford.

Mumford, who spent much of the season sidelined with a tibial plateau injury sustained in training in April tested his form at Superweek and the Tour de Toona, and is heading into the national championship with good form. "Reid's definitely back on form and we're glad to see it," said performance director Jonas Carney. "Plus I think he's got the fire inside to really make something happen. I know from personal experience when you've been out for a while with injury, you come back very focused and more aggressive than ever."

Mumford will also contest the road race along with Dan Bowman and Jonny Sundt, both of whom have seen some of the best racing of their careers in the team's first season. Bowman, 25, took second overall GC at the Tour of Virginia in April, while Sundt has been an aggressive criterium racer, spending plenty of time in breaks or chasing them for the team.

"We're hoping we can carry the incredible momentum of Downers Grove into the time trial and road race for the trifecta win," says John Kelly, title sponsor and president Kelly Benefit Strategies. "While we're realistic and know that the field is going to highly competitive, our athletes have never been healthier and more focused on winning."

US women head to Plouay

TEAm Lipton's Lauren Franges
Photo ©: Emory Ball
(Click for larger image)

The women's UCI World Cup heads to France for the GP de Plouay, marking the second to last race in that series, and the US national team will be sending a strong squad to the event. Webcor's Katheryn Curi, Brooke Miller (Team Tibco), Lauren Franges (Team Lipton), Alison Powers (Colavita-Sutter Home-Cooking Light), Katharine Carroll (Aaron's) and Kori Seehafer (Team Lipton) are part of a provisional start list who will take on the best in the World on the hilly course in western France.

Following the GP de Plouay, the women's team will continue its preparation for the UCI Road World Championships with several key European races including the Holland Ladies Tour, Sept. 3-8 in the Netherlands, the Memorial Davide Fratelli Time Trial on Sept. 9 in Italy, the Tour Cycliste Feminin International Ardeche, Sept. 11-15 in France and the Giro della Toscana, Sept. 18-23 in Italy. The late-summer European campaign will help to determine the roster that will represent the United States at the world championships in Stuttgart, Germany, Sept. 26-30.

Newton returns for Nocturne

Back in 2005, Chris Newton destroyed the opposition in the Shropshire Star Newport Nocturne. Despite driving rain he lapped the top class field, taking most of the primes along the way. The team captain has already had a brilliant year on the road, having recently secured the Premier Calendar series, but the season is far from over and Chris wants to take the Nocturne title again.

"I'm really looking forward to riding the Newport Nocturne again," said Newton. "The past 2 years seem to have flown by. The event has probably the biggest crowds we ever race in front of, and the atmosphere the crowds help to create on the night is second to none. With the Beijing Olympics now only just around corner an event like this is ideal for getting used to the sort of media attention riders will face in China."

The team have a double edged sword for the Nocturne with local star Simon Holt also taking part. Nineteen year old Holt is an accomplished circuit rider and the other teams will have to keep an eye on both men.

"I'm especially looking forward to seeing how my team-mate Simon Holt deals with the race," Newton continued. "Simon has been going very well in circuit races all year and as a local lad he's very much 'up for it '. With a bit of luck he'll take some of the pressure off me and maybe that, in turn, will benefit the team. We really want to keep the victory 'in house' and remain Champions of the Nocturne for another two years."

Britain's only floodlit cycle race, the Shropshire Star Newport Nocturne takes place at 6.45pm on Saturday 1st September see for details.

Ace Victorian cyclist passes on

By Rod Morris

Former top Victorian cyclist Spencer Stevens passed away earlier this week, aged 83. Spencer was a member of a highly successful cycling family, with his father and two elder brothers all reaching great heights. Spencer won Tasmania's most prestigious track event, the Latrobe Wheelrace in 1945, just two days after his 22nd birthday.

Spencer was the youngest son of Leslie ("Bowie") and Clarice Stevens and his siblings included Norm and Ron ("Bowie" junior). Norm still lives in Melbourne, while Ron passed on earlier this year. He married Dorothy Haines and the pair had one daughter, Beverley (Mrs Smith). An oxy welder by trade, Spencer late became a cycle mechanic, working for Maurice Cramer at Cecil Walker Cycles. He rode for the Malvern Amateur Cycling Club and won numerous scratch and handicap races, but the Latrobe Wheel remained his biggest success.

Join the Fantasy Vuelta 2007 today!

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).

BBB eyewear
Photo ©:
(Click for larger image)

Fantasy Upgraded

We've added some great improvements to the game this year:
1. New ranking and results service, offering new depths of rider statistics on races over the last four years.
2. See your friends exact selections in the this year's game as it happens.
3. Look up the winning managers team selections for last year to improve your selection this year.
4. Follow the progress of the key fantasy managers whilst also tracking your friends' progress in the new "Watch Teams" tool.
5. Build your own Mini-Leagues.
6. Try out the Forum/Chat area, which provides new ways to communicate with your fellow players from around the world in real time as the races unfold.
7. New stage selection system to make sure you never miss a stage pick again.


Photo ©:
(Click for larger image)

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.

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:

Top 2006 Mountains Riders
Top 2006 Sprinters
Top 2006 Finishers
Top 2006 Game Stage Points Riders

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.

Good luck!

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