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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, December 7, 2007

Edited by Laura Weislo

Vinokourov retires, vows to fight on

Alexander Vinokourov (Astana)
Photo ©: Unipublic
(Click for larger image)

Kazakh Alexander Vinokourov made a surprise decision to retire on Thursday after being handed a one year sentence by his national federation for blood doping. Vinokourov, who tested positive for homologous blood transfusion during the 2007 Tour de France, was handed the suspension on Thursday by the Kazakh Cycling Federation.

Vinokourov's lawyer, Maurice Suh, who is well known for defending another rider disgraced with a Tour de France doping positive, Floyd Landis, released a statement following the sentence which indicated Vinokourov would continue to race. "Mr. Vinokourov looks forward to the end of his suspension and to the opportunity begin returning to racing once his suspension is completed," however Vinokourov subsequently indicated that he would retire rather than return to the sport.

The one year sanction would have ended on July 21, 2008, early enough to allow the former Astana star to participate in the Olympic Games in Beijing – a controversial decision by a federation trying its first ever doping case. But the decision is likely to be appealed by the UCI.

The UCI's spokesman Enrico Carpani expressed surprise at the Kazakh's short sentence. Cycling's other transfusion positives, American Tyler Hamilton and Spaniard Santi Perez, have resulted in two-year sentences. "We are very shocked and surprised. We wonder where the Kazakh federation has found elements to deliver such a sanction," Carpani told AFP .

The UCI indicated that it would appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), and Vinokourov subsequently announced he would retire. "Alexander Vinokourov will stop competing and will retire, but says he will continue to fight for his honour," L'Equipe reported.

The 34 year-old has always maintained his innocence, and won the support of the Kazakh government and its cycling federation following his positive test. However, the Kazakh federation was under pressure to appease the UCI, saying that it had made the decision to sanction the rider because, according to vice-president Nikolai Proskurin, "The documents and evidence presented by Vinokourov and his lawyers were not convincing," but added that the decision to sanction was made, "so that the Kazakh federation is not suspended by the International Cycling Union (UCI)."

Vos debuts on track in Beijing

Marianne Vos (Netherlands)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

The World Cup champion on the road, Dutch woman Marianne Vos, will make her debut in the World Cup track race at the Laoshan velodrome in Beijing on Friday. The 20 year-old has already won elite World Championships on the road and in cyclo-cross, but decided to skip the 'cross season this year to focus on qualifying for the Olympic Games. Vos will test her skills on the newly built Olympic velodrome in the scratch race first, and then in the points race.

Vos will also use her time in Beijing to scope out the course for the road race events, which according to her DSB Bank director Thijs Rondhuis is a priority. "That is certainly a priority," said Rondhuis to ANP. Rondhuis explained that Vos would also try to qualify in the individual pursuit, but that competition in that event would come later in the season.

"That is a big training work load," said Rondhuis. "Because the road season is so close to the track season, Marianne began her training for the pursuit later. When we have reached the technical training stage, is when she will start racing that discipline."

The second round of the UCI Track World Cup will be another important step towards Olympic qualification after the Sydney World Cup last week, as the World Cup winners earn an automatic qualification to the Games. 376 cyclists from 69 teams and 44 countries will face off in 17 men's and women's events over three days.

Burghardt injured in training accident

A happy Marcus Burghardt
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Team High Road's Marcus Burghardt was injured in a freak accident while training on Monday at an unofficial team training camp on Mallorca. The 24-year-old was doing sprint training when the chain slipped off the ring at full speed and Burghardt rammed his right knee into the handlebars.

He was taken to a hospital in Palma, but no diagnosis has yet been announced. The Gent-Wevelgem winner has returned to Germany for further examination and has cancelled his planned participation in a 'cross race this weekend.

Since last Saturday, a group of about 25 riders – most still wearing the T-Mobile gear – as well as sport managers, mechanics, soigneurs and numerous administrative have been at the Read's Hotel Santa Maria del Camí, a hotel in rural Mallorca for the early season camp.

Di Luca meets with CONI

Danilo Di Luca
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

2007 Giro d'Italia champion Danilo Di Luca met with Ettore Torri, the head prosecutor of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) to discuss irregular doping tests taken during this year's Giro d'Italia. The test in question was taken following the 142-kilometre stage to Monte Zoncolan, which was won by Gilberto Simoni.

Di Luca, who is currently serving a three-month suspension for connections to the 'Oil for Drugs' investigation, was reported to have the hormone levels of a child in his urine after a surprise doping control taken the evening following the stage.

Accompanied by his lawyer Federico Cecconi for the hour long meeting, Di Luca denied he had taken an intravenous drip following the stage, as suggested by Torri. "The prosecutor has submitted reports of its endocrinologist," said Di Luca according to La Gazzetta dello Sport, "now we present ours. Prosecutor Ettore Torri told me that I could possibly have take a drip, if I had declared it. But I did not take any drip, a practice which is not prohibited, do what should I have to declare?"

Di Luca was supported by the Liquigas doctor who took care of the team during the Giro, Dr. Roberto Corsetti. "On May 30 after the stage with arrival at the Monte Zoncolan, I never gave any infusion to Danilo Di Luca as has been suggested, and have always complied with the regulations of WADA and the Italian rules in the field of doping."

Jaksche's career ends?

German Jörg Jaksche, who was suspended for one year after he confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs during his career as a professional cyclist, admitted Friday that was losing hope on finding a new team, and may have to end his career.

"I do not bet a lot of money on the fact that I can resume my career," said Jaksche according to sid. Jaksche, who has been a regular name in the news after a year of tell-all in the German press, thought his confession would have a different outcome in light of the new movement to clean up the sport.

"I thought that my sincerity would be rewarded, but it seems to me now that it is being punished," said Jaksche. The 32 year-old's suspension for confessing to using the services of Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, is up in July.

Godefroot and d'Hont to meet in court

Walter Godefroot and Steffen Wesemann are suing Jef d'Hont over claims in his book about doping at Team Telekom in the 1990s. D'Hont's attorney, Dimitri Dedecker, confirmed to Focus magazine that they are charging the former soigneur with telling "lies and untruths".

A trial date of December 16 has been set for d'Hont, his publisher Andre Van Halewyck and a Belgian journalist, who is said to have helped with the research. "We are not at all worried," Dedecker said. A decision is not expected until sometime in the coming year.

In his book, published in April, d'Hont claimed that there was systematic doping at Team Telekom in the 1990s. Godefroot, 63, was team manager for Team Telekom/T-Mobile team, and has consistently denied the charges that he organized and financed the doping. He had announced in June that he would take d'Hont to court.

Wesemann, who rode for Telekom/T-Mobile from 1993 to 2006, has supported Godefroot all along and has denied ever being offered doping by anyone associated with the team.

Millar handed role at anti-doping agency

Millar shows his intellectual side.
Photo ©: Mark Zalewski
(Click for larger image)

David Millar has added another role to his already busy career by taking a seat on the World Anti-Doping Agency's Athlete Committee, the organisation announced Thursday. The 30 year-old who joined the Slipstream team as a part owner for the 2008 season has been a strong anti-doping advocate since serving a two year suspension for confessing to the use of EPO.

Millar, who will join elite athletes from around the world on the committee for one year, beginning January 1, 2008, is the first athlete from Great Britain to serve on the committee. "I'm delighted to have been elected and am looking forward to getting involved," said Millar to the Scotsman. "I feel I have a lot to offer both in terms of enabling others to learn from my experiences, and in ensuring that athletes are at the heart of the anti-doping movement."

Millar had support from UK Sport in his new endeavour. Its head of operations, Andy Parkinson expressed confidence in Millar. "David will be an excellent addition to WADA's Athletes Committee," said Parkinson. "Since we started working with him we have been consistently impressed with the passion and commitment he has shown to the cause. His insights have been hugely valuable to us and I have no doubt our counterparts worldwide will be impressed."

Sprint kings to battle at Surfers Paradise

Baden Cooke won in South Bank
Photo ©: Tim Francis
(Click for larger image)

The 2007 Grand Prix Tour moves to Surfers Paradise December 8-9 with its second and final weekend of racing.

In his Unibet jersey for the final time before moving to Team Barloworld in 2008, Baden Cooke will take on the likes of Robbie McEwen, who has won four of the event's six years, 2007 Herald Sun Tour winner Matt Wilson, Henk Vogels and Simon Gerrans. McEwen has only been beaten at Surfers Paradise by four-time Olympic medallist Brad McGee and Nick Gates.

Cooke will be racing fresh off his win last weekend at the South Bank Grand Prix, which also doubled as the Australian National Criterium Championships. He finished third in last year's Surfers Paradise.

"The shorter course at Surfers is much harder to establish a break and technically more difficult so it's important to stay out of trouble," said McEwen who will bring his experience to bear Sunday on the tight, demanding 950m course around Cavill Avenue, Elkhorn Avenue, Orchid Avenue and The Esplanade.

2004 Olympic gold winner Graeme Brown will return to the series Sunday; he won the overall last year, but missed last weekend due to track racing commitments. The race will serve also as Matt White's final competition in Queensland before retirement.

Joining the men for only the second time in the event's history will be the women. Oceania champion Rochelle Gilmore will be looking to redeem herself after a mistake last weekend when she failed to realize that Kirsty Broun and Carly Higgerd were actually off the front in a break and not trailing the bunch. The mix-up happened after a crash in the main peloton caused confusion.

"I'm so psyched for Surfers this weekend after what happened," said Gilmore. "I was asking the girls in the bunch, ‘Are they away?' and nobody realised it. Sara Carrigan actually congratulated me on winning after we crossed the line."

Carrigan claimed the inaugural women's title last year. Coming off two-week training break, she's not predicting a podium finish although she has said she will show up and race to support the event.

The 90km South Bank to Surfers Paradise will happen Saturday followed by the Surfers Paradise for various categories on Sunday.

Orbea Oreka finalizes roster

By Monika Prell

After the surprising signing of Unai Uribarri (former Euskaltel Euskadi rider), Orbea Oreka signed yesterday Eladio Sánchez, reports Deia. The 23 year-old became pro in 2005 when he rode for Liberty Seguros. When this team ceased to exist, he was signed at the last minute by the team Fuerteventura Canarias. When Fuerteventura fell victim to a lack of sponsors, Sánchez had to look for a new team, and he finally found it in the subsidiary of Euskaltel – Euskadi, the amateur team Orbea Oreka.

Orbea Oreka’s director, Álvaro González de Galdeano, explained yesterday that the squad is now closed. It consists of 12 cyclists: Daniel Sesma, Aitor Olano, Eriz Ruiz de Erentxun, Jonathan Castroviejo, Mikel Nieve, Sergio de Lis, Miguel Mínguez , David Martín, Iván Melero, Igor Romero, Unai Uribarri and Eladio Sánchez.

First Bettiniadi a success

By Gregor Brown

Tug of war
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

The Paolo Bettini Fan Club successfully organised the first Bettiniadi with the help of the city of Bibbona, home of the two-time World Champion. Italian cyclists of the of the 2007 Italian national team squared off with journalists in school yard games Sunday, December 2, the day after the presentation of the 2008 Giro d'Italia parcours.

Other than Bettini competing, there were Alessandro Ballan, Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Daniele Nardello, Luca Paolini, Filippo Pozzato, Leonardo Scarselli, Matteo Tosatto, Andrea Tonti and Italian Champion Giovanni Visconti. The journalists were headed by Stephen Farrand, an Englishman based in Livorno.

The Bettiniadi Games (named after Bettini and 'Olimpiadi', Olympic Games in Italian) were highlighted by the tug of war, sack race and the mobile phone launch, and saw the riders prevail over the writers. 'The Killer' Di Luca let off a little steam by launching his mobile some 22 metres.

An Octoberfest beer tent accompanied the games, and provided a venue for the ceremonies. The teams exchanged gifts; the riders gave the journalist two bottles of extra virgin olive oil, while the journalist gave two bottles of wine, a bottle of shampoo for 'clean cycling' and a condom with the slogan, "I won't risk my health."


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Roberto Bettini/

Simoni races in the Dolomites

Two-time Giro d'Italia Champion Gilberto Simoni
Photo ©: ATCommunication
(Click for larger image)

Cycling fans are accustomed to seeing diminutive climbers like Gilberto Simoni in the heat of the action in the Dolomites – but it's normally during the Giro d'Italia in May and not in the dead of winter. However, on December 5th, the climber from Palù di Giovo in Trentino was in the thick of it whilst racing in the Cycling Ski Challenge at the Dolomiti Stars in the colours of Sidi.

The two-time Giro d'Italia champion was having a bit of fun on the ski slopes, going up against team-mates new and old on the Costabella giant slalom run on the San Pellegrino pass. Gibo also went up against some of cycling's best known names, including Moreno Argentin, Claudio Chiappucci, Silvio Martinello, Dimitry Konychev, Riccardo Magrini, Andrea Peron, Mario Scirea and the two Trento natives Maurizio Fondriest and Francesco Moser.

"It was a lot of fun," commented Simoni. "It's been a while since I've put on downhill skis, but I couldn't miss this challenge. Lately I've been more into Alpine skiing and Nordic Skiing, and I must say that this giant slalom was very exciting and the competition in the race was truly fierce. Some of my team-mates ski extremely well. A special thanks to my friends in the Dolomiti Stars who really organized a splendid event."

Simoni realized a good performance on the track of the giant slalom closing in 12th place in the race won by Andrea Peron. .  


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by ATCommunication

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2007)