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Photo ©: Swift

Latest Cycling News for August 31, 2007

Edited by Gregor Brown

Di Luca prepares for Worlds and linked to Lampre

Di Luca and Cunego during the Giro d'Italia
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Danilo Di Luca will be one of Italy's best bets when the World Championships are run on September 30 in Stuttgart. The 31 year-old won the Giro d'Italia earlier this year, and he also has proven abilities in one-day races, like with his win in the Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The Liquigas rider lines up for the GP Plouay this Sunday focused on building for the Worlds, but he will also have his mind on a new contract.

"I have a very strong team at my side," explained 'The Killer' to La Gazzetta dello Sport. He will line up in the 210.1-kilometre GP Plouay with Filippo Pozzato and last year's winner Vincenzo Nibali.

He last raced the course in 2005, the same year that he went on to win the newly introduced ProTour. Di Luca is once again trying to win the ProTour overall. "I want to gain key points for the ProTour [classification]. When I won it in 2005 the competition remained in the air until the end; it would not be bad to close the door early."

Italian National Directeur Sportif Franco Ballerini will be watching the race to determine how Di Luca's form is progressing. "I want to see him in France, it is a longer test and with very competitive rivals. He knows that he has to continue rising [in form]," Ballerini commented. The following day, September 3, he will also be interested in the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) hearing involving the rider.

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There are suggestions he could make the jump from Liquigas to Lampre-Fondital. Di Luca's value has been elevated as a result of his race wins, and it has complicated contract negotiations with his current team.

Di Luca would join the side of 2004 Giro Champ Damiano Cunego. It would not be the first time that the two were paired, as they rode together at team Saeco from 2002 to 2004. Contract negotiations could be made easier as the two men share the same agent.

Lampre would have two riders for the Grand Tours in its ranks, and it would have to divide the Giro and Tour between the two. Cunego stated his desire to return to contest the Tour de France in 2008, this could free the team to ride in support of Di Luca for the Giro d'Italia. However, the team of Giuseppe Saronni will also be keeping its eye on the CONI investigation.

Saunier Duval looking for its first Vuelta

By Iker Rioja

Joxean 'Matxin' Fernández stated yesterday in an interview with EFE Radio that the main goal of Saunier Duval-Prodir in the Vuelta a España is to improve last year's fifth position. The three-week races starts this Saturday.

"Marchante has prepared for the race very well," reckoned Matxin. "The first week will be decisive, with the first mountain stage and the time trial. Nevertheless, there will be little gaps between the best riders, so we will have to wait until the third one [week] to clear things up".

Matxin believes that Cadel Evans, Denis Menchov and Oscar Pereiro are the strongest men in the race.

His young rider Arkaitz Durán talked about the team's ambitions in the race. "I'm excited, it's my first Grand Tour ever", the 21 year-old Basque explained to hometown radio Cadena Ser. "I'll try to help José Angel [Gómez Marchante] but I will also go for escapes. It's always nice to wear the leader's jersey, but seen this year's route I think it's better to wait since we would be working hard from the very beginning."

The 189 riders fit and ready

By Iker Rioja

The International Cycling Union (UCI) carried out heath checks on all of the 189 riders that selected to take part in 62nd edition of the Vuelta a España. Every rider was declared fit and ready to race.

Pereiro will extend contract with team but Caisse d'Epargne debates involvement

By Monika Prell

Pereiro set to extend
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

Oscar Pereiro will extend his contract with Team Caisse d'Epargne. After days of negotiations, Pereiro preferred to stay with his current squad and passed on other teams, like Karpin-Galicia. According to Marca, Pereiro will wait to sign the papers until after the Vuelta a España.

Meanwhile, Caisse d'Epargne is considering stopping its sponsorship of Abarca Sport, the society that belongs to Eusebio Unzúe and José Miguel Echavarri. Caisse d'Epargne will have a meeting in Paris today where it will decide about a possible departure.

Oscar Pereiro commented on the Alejandro Valverde situation. "If they really have evidence against him ... they should have said something. ... If I remember well, they incriminated Valverde last year and the [Spanish] Superior Sport Council denied it. It's evident that in the foreign countries they even don't believe our government, and I think that at the end it should be the government that has to find a solution."

Johan Bruyneel to head Astana?

There are some news agencies speculating that Johan Bruyneel could lead Team Astana for 2008 and beyond. The Belgian will end his duties at the end the year when Discovery Channel ceases as a team, while at Astana there have been rumours of Team Manager Marc Biver leaving. A communication regarding the Swiss is expected September 5.

Bruyneel could bring with him many Discovery riders, such as Tour de France winner Alberto Contador and Yaroslav Popovych. Further comments from Bruyneel and Astana are expected.

Kashechkin's B-sample confirms positive

Andrey Kashechkin (Astana)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Andrey Kashechkin's B-sample has tested positive for a homologous blood transfusion, Team Astana announced Friday morning. He has been rapidly dismissed by the team.

The Kazakh rider tested positive on August 1 in an out-of-competition doping control while on vacation with his family. The team suspended him at that time.

It was Astana's third doping case this year, following the positive tests from Matthias Kessler (testosterone) and Alexander Vinokourov (blood doping).

Earlier this week, Kashechkin indicated that he would file a suit against the UCI in Belgium if his B-sample came back positive on the grounds that the UCI did not have the right to conduct such tests.

T-Mobile to Plouay

Ciolek on the podium in Germany
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Gerald Ciolek will look for a sprint finish in the GP Plouay ProTour race this Sunday. He is coming off three stage wins in the Deutschland Tour.

"The challenging terrain should suit Gerald," said T-Mobile Directeur Sportif Tristan Hoffman. "Pure sprinters will struggle over the rolling terrain, but he won't have a problem sticking with the bunch."

He will be supported there by Roger Hammond, Greg Henderson, Jakob Piil, Marcus Burghardt, Marco Pinotti, Frantisek Rabon and Thomas Ziegler. Both Burghardt and Hammond will focus on breakaway groups, and will use the race to hone their form for upcoming events. Burghardt will ride the Worlds Championships the end of the month, and Hammond is preparing for his season highlight, the Tour of Britain.

Euskaltel-Euskadi for GP Plouay

By Monika Prell

Euskaltel-Euskadi will compete the GP Plouay on Sunday with Jon Bru, Unai Etxebarria, Beñat Albizuri, Andoni Aranaga, Joseba Zubeldia, Ivan Mayoz, Iban Iriondo and Andoni Lafuente.

Directeur Sportif Jon Odriozola has asked the eight riders to show the same aggression that the team displays throughout the season.

Belgians select men for time trial Worlds Championships

Belgian national coach Carlo Bomans has selected Dominique Cornu and Jurgen Van den Broeck, both of Predictor-Lotto, to ride the time trial in the upcoming World Championships. The decision was made after national time trial champion Leif Hoste decided he would rather not participate.

Cornu won the U23 World time trial title last fall by 37 seconds. He finished fifth in this year's national championships. Van den Broeck was Junior World Champion in 1999 and finished third this year in the nationals.

According to, Hoste said "I would rather that they take someone who is more motivated. I am not cancelling because the course is too hard. I came well out of the Tour, but the period between the Tour and the Worlds is very difficult to fill up. I will ride a number of one-day races, but you won't see me at the World Championships time trial."

Ludewig to retire at end of season

Jörg Ludewig
Photo ©: Andrea Hübner
(Click for larger image)

After nine years as a professional cyclist, Jörg Ludewig is calling it quits at the end of the season.

"Since I have a great offer from the firm Carbonsports, I didn't want to wait any longer and will change sides at the end of the year. I am very excited to see how my 'new life' will feel," he said on his website, "It was hard, but mainly a good, time."

Carbonsports is a German firm which manufactures high-end sports equipment, such as carbon frames and wheels.

Ludewig, who turns 32 on September 9, became professional in 1997 with Team Bayer-Worrington. He rode with Gerolsteiner (1999), Saeco (2000-2004), Domina Vacanze (2005) and T-Mobile (2006) before joining the Professional Continental Team Wiesenhof-Felt this year.

The German's career ran into problems last year when a letter he wrote in 1997 inquiring into the availability of doping products was made public. He denied that he had ever followed up on the letter and said that "I repeat, that now, as ever, I distance myself from doping." In August 2006 the team announced that he would not ride any more races for it and that his contract would not be renewed.

In an interview on, he said that he had been surprised and disappointed not be nominated to ride the Deutschland Tour, since he was in good condition at the time. "But after I asked again and again, the team management finally told me that they were not sure whether should take me because of my 'past.'"

Before he finally puts his bike aside for good, he will ride a local race in Steinhagen, Germany, this Saturday and the Drei-Länder Tour later in the month.

Landis decision due at end of September?

The decision in Floyd Landis' doping case may finally be issued by the arbitrators the end of September. US sports TV network ESPN reported that it had a copy of a memo from the arbitration panel chairman Patrice Brunet indicating that the decision would be issued the end of September.

In the memo, Brunet, chairman of the three-man panel, told lawyers for both sides that the panel will meet with Dr. Francesco Botre, its own scientific expert, on September 12. Botre is the head of the WADA lab in Rome. After that meeting, the panel expects to formally close the hearing and would then have 10 days to issue its decision.

"The panel remains acutely mindful of the timing issues in connection with this case; however, the Panel also needs to verify an important volume of technical information, which is at the very core of this arbitration," the memo stated. The final decision can be appealed by either side to the Court of Appeals for Sport (CAS).

Millar is Nocturne TT favourite as Wiggins pulls out

David Millar has become the favourite to win the "Battle for Beijing," a special one lap time trial at the Shropshire Star Newport Nocturne. Bradley Wiggins has been forced to pull out after his team called him up at the last minute to ride the GP Plouay.

Millar is in top-form after taking second place in the Eneco Tour, just 11 seconds behind Iván Gutiérrez of Caisse d'Epargne. However, he will have to watch out for the points winner of the Eneco Tour, Mark Cavendish. The time trial will also feature Geraint Thomas, youngest rider in this year's Tour de France, World Champion and Olympic medallist Rob Hayles and local hopeful, Simon Holt.

"It's a shame Bradley can't make it to the Nocturne," Promoter Nick Jeggo said. "He really wanted to ride and it would have been one of those rare races where he could have been based at his home instead of at some European hotel.

"The course is quite technical in places, but has two very long flat sections where the strongest riders can really use their power."

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