Latest Cycling News for December 5, 2007
Edited by Gregor Brown, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer
Eufemiano Fuentes concerned about sport's impact on athletes
Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, the Spaniard at the centre of the Operación Puerto affair that erupted in May 2006, spoke out about the negative consequences of professional sports on its athletes' health. The 52 year-old was invited as a special guest to a conference of sports medicine during the Vuelta a Maspalomas, a Spanish event attended by 300 cyclo-tourists.
"No worries, I am able to prescribe almost any medicine without having to think about anti-doping controls or others things," said Fuentes of his work as a family doctor to Filippo Maria Ricci of La Gazzetta dello Sport. He arrived at the conference on the Canary Islands after seven hours of work in the surgery room. "Cycling? It is something of the past. A lot of good memories, and I still have many offers for work. However, the decision was made and I will not turn back. I don't follow it; on TV I watch the news and documentaries."
Fuentes answered some questions from the audience of near 50 people, but was careful not to compromise his testimony regarding Operación Puerto – "The procedure is shelved, but not closed," he noted.
He spoke of sports impact on professional athletes. "You cannot race a tour on bread and water. Alternatively, you can if you are able to go at a 28 [km/h] average, not 42. The Grand Tours have to be modified radically, otherwise they will vanish."
He went though a slide show that helped demonstrate his point, according to the Italian newspaper, and used medical terminology that many in attendance would have had difficulty in understanding. "The cyclists are like miners: they know that they are at risk, but it is their work. Sport affects your health, and the doctors have to help."
To defend his theory, Fuentes pointed towards a football player for Sevilla FC who died recently. "Some months ago died a football player, Antonio Puerta," he continued. "He suffered from cardiac arrests that were undiagnosed – at least not until the autopsy. I think that little is invested in prevention and too much in penalties. It is a huge hypocrisy. In some cases, good or bad, the doping products are considered the only cure, but they are prohibited."
The issue is delicate, and certainly storing blood bags in Madrid for professional cyclists around the world to re-use at a later date was considered a risky – and not healthy – activity on the part of Fuentes and his collaborators, such as José Merino Batres.
"Are the cyclists criminals? Certainly if you permit them to have their privacy violated while living in a free country. However, the cyclists were born to suffer, and they accept it all or almost all."
He was asked about Ivan Basso, one of the only cyclists to be sentenced based on relations to Fuentes and Puerto. "Really?" was his reaction to hearing the news. "I did not know. I don't follow cycling anymore."
Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'
May 18, 2009 - Valverde to start Catalunya
Lefevere stops as head of AIGCP
Patrick Lefevere is leaving his post as head of the International Association of Professional Cycling teams (AIGCP), he has told the Gazet van Antwerpen. He said that he was tired of the constant quarrels between the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the Grand Tour organisers. "After two and a half years I've had enough."
"The bosses of the UCI and those from the Grand Tours sit around and endlessly search for an agreement that never comes. I don't want to do that to myself any more."
The 52 year-old said that he wanted more time for himself and for his family. "I want to cycle, to ski, to pay attention to my health. If I still have a team in 2009, then I will want to be able to enjoy my riders' performances and not have to drive from here to there to sit unnecessarily at negotiation tables."
Lefevere's contract with Quick.Step expires the end of 2008, and he hopes to know by July 1 at the latest whether the sponsorship contract will be extended.
Boonen plans his schedule
Tom Boonen has planned his racing calendar up to the Spring Classics, starting with a Team Quick.Step-Innergetic training camp in Italian's Tuscany region from December 13 to 19.
The dates of the Italian training camp mean that he will miss the announcement of the Belgian Athlete of the Year award, but he told Sportwereld.be that "I will speak with the team again as to whether I could attend. That is the most beautiful award that you can win in Belgium."
The team will gather again in Spain in January, and Boonen will open his season in the Tour of Qatar (January 27 - February 1), to be followed by the Tour of California (February 17 - 24). He hopes to be over his jet lag for the Omloop Het Volk (March 1). "That will be close. There are only five or six days between California and Het Volk," he told the Gazet van Antwerpen, "but I will still try to start the Omloop. Kuurne, Paris-Nice and all the Spring Classics: all that remains the same."
Wesemann to lead Pedaltech-Cyclingnews
Team Pedaltech-Cyclingnews-Jako, the successor team to DFL-Cyclingnews, will have a new captain in the coming season. Swiss Steffen Wesemann, who finished third in this year's Paris-Roubaix, will come to the team from Team Wiesenhof, which is ending at the end of this year.
"The change is perfect," the 36 year-old told the dpa press agency. Bas Giling (Wiesenhof) and Jonas Ljungblad (Unibet.com) are also joining the team, according to bikeradar.com.
Pedaltech has a British licence. The UCI recently only gave it a Continental license, but team manager Mike Matts was confident that he would able to provide the necessary material for a Professional Continental license by the December 10 deadline.
Wesemann turned pro in 1993 with Team Telekom (later T-Mobile Team), where he stayed until joining Wiesenhof this year. A native German, he took on Swiss citizenship in 2005. His palmarčs include winning the overall International Peace Race five times, as well as Rund um Köln and the Ronde van Vlaanderen.
No Bartko for Berlin
Robert Bartko has won two Six Days races so far this season, but he will not be appearing at his "home" race, the 97th Berliner Sechstagrennen, January 24 to 29. "I would have to start there for a fee 30 percent smaller than last year," he said, according to the sid press agency. "And I had already made a smaller request, since I am no longer World Champion."
Race organiser Heinz Seesing criticised the rider, saying, "For me this kind of behaviour falls under the heading of 'playing for more money.'"
Bartko and Iljo Keisse have already won the Amsterdam Six Day and the Gent Six Day this season. He would have had a different partner in Berlin.
"Hard reality" for Veneberg
Thorwald Veneberg has run into what a Dutch judge called "the hard reality of top sport." That judge ruled Wednesday morning that Veneberg was not entitled to a new contract from Team Rabobank. The team had not offered him a new contract for the coming season, and he had contested that decision, saying that under Netherlands' employment laws, he should be considered under contract for an indefinite period of time, since he had had a contract with the team since January 1, 2001.
Veneberg claimed that he was entitled to either the right to work or compensation for his dismissal, adding that the team never told him that he was not riding well. At the hearing earlier this month, Rabobank's attorneys said that he was not offered a new contract because "last year he was nearly worthless for the team."
According to the Belga press agency, the judge ruled that Veneberg's contract clearly stated that his services to the team were dependent based on his performance. The fact that Rabobank no longer wanted to employ Veneberg is "the hard reality of top sport," the judge said He ordered that the employment contract would be dissolved by January 1 with no compensation for the rider.
Wrolich travels around the world
Peter Wrolich of Team Gerolsteiner is turning into a world traveller. The Austrian is off on the first stage of his round-the-world trip, as he flew on Monday to South Africa with his wife and son.
As in years before, "I am starting my winter training in Capetown. I have always had great conditions there," he said on his website, peterwrolich.at. He expects to find not only better weather than at home but also companionship. "I especially look forward to long training sessions with my friend René Haselbacher." The two Austrian riders rode together at Team Gerolsteiner before Haselbacher joined Team Astana in 2007.
"Paco" will stay in South Africa over the holidays, returning to Europe for two weeks before the team presentation. Directly after that he will fly to Australia for the Tour Down Under (January 22-27), which will be followed by a flight to the USA West Coast for the Tour of California (February 17-24).
Surgery for Lancaster
Milram's Brett Lancaster will have surgery this week to remove a piece of cartilage from his hip. The team announced that he will be operated on Thursday in his native Australia. He hopes to be back on the bike as soon as possible to continue training for the coming season.
Astana announces training camps
Team Astana has announced its first two training camps, one this month in Europe to be followed by one next year in the United States.
23 riders will attend the training camp next month in Jávea, Spain, from December 10 to 18. The following riders will not attend: Levi Leipheimer, Chris Horner, Andreas Klöden, Aaron Kemps, Roman Kireyev, Berik Kupeshov and Andrey Zeits.
The entire team will meet in Albuquerque, New Mexico, from January 23 through February 4.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2007)