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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News, December 7, 2007

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

GT organisers' races outside of UCI calendar?

By Hedwig Kröner

UCI president Pat McQuaid
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Click for larger image

The battle between the Grand Tour organisers, the national federations and the International Cycling Union (UCI) is moving into the next round. In a letter dated November 28, 2007, from the six most important European cycling federations (Austria, Belgium, Spain, Italy, France and Luxemburg) to the head of the UCI, Pat McQuaid, the national federations have made known their plans to let the 11 races owned by the Grand Tour organisers ASO, RCS Sport and Unipublic take place "simply on the basis of a convention acting in liaison with the Federation having territorial authority." The national federations would therefore collaborate with the Grand Tour organisers, effectively taking their side in the conflict, following a meeting with them on November 22.

At the end of September, the UCI decided to put all of these events except the Tour de France (Giro d'Italia, Vuelta a España, Milano-Sanremo, Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Giro di Lombardia, Flèche Wallonne, Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico and Paris-Tours) on the UCI Europe Tour calendar, which was perceived as a downgrade by the organisers, even though they were the ones that wanted to organise their races outside of the ProTour. (Read more about the decision's details in our Cycling News of September 28.)

In his response letter dated December 7, Pat McQuaid has refuted claims by the national federations. They stated that "the surprising combination which consists in maintaining a regulatory link between the Tour de France and the UCI Pro Tour, while at the same time downgrading the ten other events at European level, does not provide an appropriate or even a comprehensible solution to the conflict," noting that the present situation was of "extreme gravity".

"You must admit that the rights granted for example to the Giro, to the Vuelta and Liège- Bastogne-Liège, together with the obligations by which they will in future be governed in the UCI Europe Tour, in no way diminish their prestige and do not render their organization more difficult," McQuaid stated in his response letter. "These events will in fact be able to admit the teams of their own choice (UCI ProTeams, professional continental teams with the Wild Card Label and Continental Teams from the country concerned). There is therefore no reason to fear the consequences of what you regard as a downgrading. This fear, which seems to be more in the nature of a symbolic statement, leaves us perplexed when we consider your own intention of favouring the organization of these races at the national level."

Furthermore, the UCI president urged the national federations to respect the rules and regulations of the federative framework and not "favour the wishes of the organizers who refuse to respect the regulation. ... That attitude might indeed create a situation of extreme gravity in which the risk of a split would be very real because that would be its logical consequence."

McQuaid also noted that the six federations did not inform the UCI about their plans at the Congress held during the World Championships in Stuttgart, and finished, "The other federations, and the confederations, beginning with the European Cycling Union, will certainly be interested to learn that six of their colleagues have concluded a cooperation agreement to oppose the UCI, to organize a breach of its regulations, to renounce their obligations and loyalty laid down in the constitution for the benefit of private economic interests, to put part of the cycling heritage outside the family and finally to place the entire family under the guardianship of the ASO."

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split

October 4, 2008 - New ASO chief to maintain values
September 26, 2008 - UCI declares peace, appoints new VP
August 30, 2008 - UCI re-signs five ProTour races
August 22, 2008 - ProTour: Bouncing back or lame duck?
August 19, 2008 - Stapleton analyses 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - Feedback on 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - UCI announces 'world calendar'

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split

Beijing Track World Cup: Olympic test event set to sizzle

By Paul Verkuylen

The Dutch are the team to watch
Photo ©: John Veage
(Click for larger image)

The second round of the Track World Cup moves to the brand new Laoshan Velodrome and venue of the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing, China, this week. After a successful opening round in Sydney which saw a record, 395 cyclists take part in the event, 376 cyclists have entered the Olympic test event.

Forty-four nations and a total of 69 teams have entered the weekend of racing, all with the hope of qualifying for next year's Olympics. An important aspect of the weekend will be getting to know the track. Not much is known about the track as even photos have been scarce. For all the national teams and rider, bar the Chinese presumably, this will be the first time that anyone will ride the new boards that have been specially laid for the Olympics.

The Sydney World Cup brought about a number of surprises and Beijing should be no different as many of the riders are coming off a heavy road season, using the races to build form and fitness.

For the track racing super powers like Great Britain, the Netherlands and Australia, the racing may be more about building knowledge for the bigger goal of Olympic gold next year, although in order to win gold, the teams and riders still need to qualify.

To read the full preview of the Beijing Track World Cup, click here.

Sastre to ride Giro?

Spanish stage race specialist Carlos Sastre may be shifting focus next season, changing his usual Tour de France/Vuelta a España racing programme to also ride the Giro d'Italia, which could see him skip the Spanish Grand Tour. As the Tour de France will be the CSC rider's main goal in 2008, team management is yet to decide if Sastre needs to include the Giro in his season schedule in order to improve his preparation for the big event in July.

"Carlos needs to participate in more races to be in top form," CSC team manager Bjarne Riis told Danish newspaper BT. "With that objective, the Giro is the best preparation for the Tour." Sastre has been a regular podium finisher in both the Tour and the Vuelta these past two years (he finished fourth in both Grand Tours in 2006, second in the Vuelta and fourth in the Tour this season) and is therefore a serious contender to overall victory. It remains to be seen if the Spaniard will replace the Vuelta with the Giro in 2008, as team staff will decide on the question soon.

Soler Colombian Sports Man of the Year

Mauricio Soler (Barloworld) gets the award
Photo ©:
(Click for larger image)

The best climber of the 2007 Tour de France, Barloworld rider Mauricio Soler, has won the Sports Man of the Year award in his home country, Colombia, on Thursday. The ceremony hosted by the El Espectador newspaper, who has been honouring sports men for the past 47 years with the help of its readers, was held in the Sheraton Hotel in Bogotá.

Soler was accompanied by his family, including his father Manuel, his mother Maria and his wife Patricia. Also present was his team manager, Italian Claudio Corti.

The Lifetime Achievement award went to the Tour de France mountains champion in 1985 and 1987, Luis Herrera. Herrera, former Colombian champion, and Soler, the current champion, both felt very grateful to receive the awards.

Courtesy of


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Milram on Mallorca

By Susan Westemeyer

The roads on Mallorca are filling up with pro cyclists. ProTour team Milram is holding a mini-camp on the island, as is Team High Road. LINK: /news.php?id=news/2007/dec07/dec03news2 A group of Germans from the soon-to-be-German-team Milram have joined forces this week to run up the kilometres on the Spanish island.

Christian Knees, Björn Schröder, Ralf Grabsch, Martin Müller, Dennis Haueisen, Sebastian Schwager and Erik Zabel have been joined by team newcomers Christian Kux and Artur Gajek on their winter training rides. "Here it is 20 degrees and the sun is shining, while at home it is cold and rainy," explained Müller, adding that there was another reason for not training at home. "Training camps are important in the pre-season preparations, because there is nothing else to do but train and recover. When you train at home, there is always something to do, so it is not so effective."

The riders will be joined on Friday by new directeur sportif Jochen Hahn. There will be another training camp in Italy before Christmas.

Scott new partner of Saunier Duval

Saunier's Juan José Cobo and Riccardo Riccò (r)
Photo ©: Saunier Duval - Scott
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The team formerly known as Saunier Duval-Prodir has changed one of its title sponsors and will next season be named Saunier Duval-Scott, the well-known American bicycle supplier has announced. Scott has been providing its carbon bikes to the Saunier Duval team since 2003. With this expanded sponsor role, the company plans to cooperate more actively with the team in order to improve its technologies.

"We've made progress together, as the athletes' valuable feedback is a key factor to the evolution of our products. We're happy we can develop our accessories further and support the young riders recruited for next season," said Scott Vice-President Pascal Ducrot. "We entirely trust Mauro Gianetti and his men, and we've done so since 2003, when he showed us his project."

Saunier Duval-Scott riders will be equipped with the Scott Addict road frame as the weapon of choice for the 2008 ProTour schedule. The team will continue to be managed by Mauro Gianetti and Joxean Fernández "Matxin". Next year, the Scott logo will be in a prominent position on the team's jersey, which can be seen in the picture above, featuring Leonardo Piepoli, José Ángel Gómez Marchante, Juanjo Cobo and Riccardo Riccò.


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Images by Saunier Duval - Scott

Irish Postal Service main sponsor of Sean Kelly Team

By Shane Stokes

Sean Kelly at the 2006 team launch of his squad
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
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The Irish-registered, Belgium-based Sean Kelly squad is moving forward with plans for 2008 after a trio of backers was announced on Thursday for the Continental team. Ireland's national postage service An Post will come in as the main sponsor on a one year deal, with an option to continue after that. Accounting and consulting firm Grant Thornton and powertool distributor M. Donnelly will be secondary backers.

"We have a one year deal with An Post, with the possibility of it extending afterwards," said manager Kurt Bogaerts to Cyclingnews. "We are in the process of finalising the team and should be signing more riders this week."

Four Irish riders have been retained from this year's Murphy and Gunn/Newlyn Group/M. Donnelly lineup. Paídi O'Brien, Mark Cassidy, Isaac Speirs and Stephen Gallagher signed contracts on Wednesday and will be once again based at the Sean Kelly Academy in Merchtem, Belgium. Bogaerts said that there is a possibility of taking another Irish rider on the 12-man squad, which will also include cyclists from Belgium, Germany and Sweden next season. The team will also have a development wing that will enable younger Irish competitors to race abroad and to aim for professional careers.

"In our view it is crucial that young Irish cyclists have access to international competition and training," said An Post Chief Executive Donal Connell on Thursday. "This is an essential element of their career development and an integral part of the development of this sport across the country. We will be announcing a number of other sponsorship initiatives in cycling in the coming months."

The future of the team had been uncertain after the decision of 2007 sponsors Murphy and Gunn and The Newlyn Group not to extend their backing. However, the new arrangement means that the budget will be similar in the coming season.

Kelly emphasised the importance of the setup. "One of the big advantages of basing our team at the academy in Belgium, is the access it gives our Irish cyclists to top European races. It provides them with the opportunities that we did not have as cyclists back in the 1980's.

"It also raises the profile of the Irish cyclists in Europe. If you were to send athletes or teams over from Ireland, the cost can be prohibitive. Basing ourselves in Belgium, we can have a team in a race with all the necessary back up without an issue," he said. The An Post/M. Donnelly/Grant Thornton Sean Kelly squad will compete in a range of international races in 2008, with the Tour de San Luis in Argentina, the Etoile des Bessèges in France and the Portuguese Tour of Algarve on their early programme in January and February. It is also set to compete again in the Tour of Ireland later in the year, of which An Post is a co-sponsor.

Ireland will have two Continental teams in 2008. National road race champion David O'Loughlin and Ciarán Power head the Pezula squad, which was launched earlier this autumn.

Schur confesses "informer" background

By Susan Westemeyer

Former East German cyclist and Olympic gold medal winner Jan Schur has admitted that he was an "inoffizieller Mitarbeiter" (IM, unofficial collaborator) for the German Democratic Republic's Security Service "Staatsicherheit" (Stasi) from 1981 onwards. IMs for the Stasi were expected to spy on their colleagues and inform on them back to the government.

Many prominent athletes of the GDR were IMs, the majority involuntarily. The GDR sought out those athletes who were most successful and who travelled out of the country. They received compensation in various forms for their cooperation. Other well-known sports names of Stasi IMs are said to be track's Heike Drechsler and figure skater Kati Witt.

Schur said that he worked for the Stasi under the codename "Reinhold" in the 1980s. He was approached by two Stasi officers in the summer of 1981, he told the Leipziger Volkszeitung. He said that at the time he felt "proud" to be selected, but that he soon found out that it dealt with "sounding people out. I was supposed to tell on other athletes. It was embarrassing, but I didn't know how to get out of it."

He only met with Stasi officers a dozen times in seven years, he said. "I said some things that I maybe shouldn't have said, and I'm sorry for that. But on the whole I don't have to apologize to anyone." His last meeting with them was in September 1988, and the program ceased to exist in 1989, following Germany's reunification.

Schur, 45, is the son of Täve Schur, also a cyclist and arguably East Germany's most popular athlete. The younger Schur won the 100 km team time trial in the World Championships in 1985 and 1989 and at the Seoul Olympics in 1988. He ended his career in 1994, after suffering severe injuries in a soccer game.

Giling to Pedaltech-Cyclingnews

Dutch pro Bas Giling will be joining the new Pedaltech-Cyclingnews team next season, which is currently awaiting confirmation of its Continental Pro status from the UCI. The 25 year-old comes from German team Wiesenhof, whose sponsor stops at the end of 2007 - the same squad than his team leader, Steffen Wesemann, who also signed for Pedaltech-Cyclingnews.

"I'm happy to have found a team for next year," said Giling, who lives in Geraardsbergen, Belgium. The 2004 Dutch U23 road champ had been riding for the Continental Rabobank team before changing to T-Mobile last year.

UCI officials visit Brindabella Challenge

Three high level officials from the International Cycling Union (UCI) will visit the Brindabella Challenge event at Stromlo Forest Park this weekend, Australia's largest variety cycling event which started November 30. They will inspect the mountain bike course that will host the 2009 World Championship and 2008 World Cup events.

The UCI's Helen Mortimer, Beat Wabel and Melanie Leveau will spend the weekend visiting Stromlo Forest Park's world class facilities at the invitation of the hosts of the 2009 World Championships; Canberra Off Road Cyclists (CORC) and governing body Mountainbike Australia (MTBA).

They will be inspecting the courses and be able to see some racing action during the Brindabella Challenge that this weekend includes all MTB events that will be in the Worlds program - cross country, downhill and mountain cross.

The Brindabella Challenge's second week of cycling action will also feature a criterium, held for the first time ever under the lights at the Stromlo Cycling Circuit. Australia's largest variety cycling event, funded by the ACT Government, will continue through December 9.

Weekend Event Schedule

December 8: Brindabella Epic Point to Point Challenge (100 & 50 km events)
December 8: Stromlo Forest Park Mountain Cross
December 8: Stromlo Forest Park Criterium Cycling Circuit
December 8: Kids (5-15) fun ride at Stromlo Forest park criterium circuit
December 9: Tuggeranong BMX Track (morning) and Canberra BMX Track (afternoon)
December 9: Brindabella Challenge Handicap
December 9: Brindabella Challenge MTB Orienteering at the Kowen Forest Homestead

For more information, visit

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