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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, December 22, 2007

Edited by Hedwig Kröner and Laura Weislo with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

New entry into North American peloton

The North American peloton has undergone major changes for the 2008 season. After losing two key teams, Navigators and Kodak Gallery-Sierra Nevada and seeing Team Slipstream bring in more ProTour riders at the expense of slots of domestic riders, the job market has been a difficult place for riders seeking contracts. However, quietly in the corner, a new professional team was coming together: Team Type 1. Cyclingnews' Mark Zalewski discovers the unique paradigm which the new squad is based upon.

Team Type 1 is the newest entrant to the North American UCI ranks. Under the guidance of two veteran managers, Ed Beamon, formerly of the Navigators, and Tom Schuler, who has a long history of team management, from running the Colavita men's and women's teams last year going back to the Saturn dynasty, the team is quickly taking shape.

But what exactly is Team Type 1? In a bit of a departure from the normal product sponsor model, the team is named not for a product but for a cause: Type 1 diabetes, which several of its riders have lived with since childhood. The team is funded by pharmaceutical sponsors who make insulin and other products to help diabetics cope with their disease, but its mission is not primarily to help sell those products but to sell a lifestyle.

"Our goal is to inspire people with diabetes around the world to take control of their health through diet, exercise and proper health care," said team co-founder Phil Southerland, a type 1 diabetic since he was seven months old. "As a professional team, racing against the world's best cyclists, we'll be able to deliver that message to a much wider audience."

Read the full feature here.

Matt Wilson signs for Team Type 1

By Paul Verkuylen

2007 Herald Sun Tour winner Matt Wilson looks ahead to new challenges
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

Australia's Matt Wilson has signed a one-year deal for the newly formed Continental Team Type 1 in the USA. The recent winner of the Herald Sun Tour and team domestique deluxe at Unibet.com will line up for the American squad as the team leader for the 2008 season.

"I will be the leader of the team, which will be a great experience for me. A change in role and a chance to put some pressure on myself to win some races," he told Cyclingnews.

Wilson turned professional for the French Franšaise des Jeux squad in 2001 after a stellar season in 2000 riding for Team Down Under, the predecessor to what is now DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed. After racing for the ill-fated Unibet.com team this season, the opportunity to ride for a new team in a country unfamiliar to him will give Wilson new motivation to take his already successful career to the next level.

"American racing is getting much bigger and the races are attracting a lot of the top teams in Europe, but I think it will be a big change. This year [2008] will be a test to see if I like it [racing in the states]," he said.

The team is waiting to find out if it will get a start in the Tour of California, but in the meantime Wilson is focusing his energies on the upcoming Bay series criteriums before heading to the National championships and the Tour Down Under, where he will ride for the UniSA team (see below).

Fired Lotto doctor defends himself

Bj÷rn Leukemans is at the center of what could become a new doping scandal in Belgium
Photo ©: Brecht DecaluwÚ
(Click for larger image)

Dr. Sam Vermeire, who was fired from the Predictor-Lotto squad this week as he was blamed for Bj÷rn Leukemans' positive anti-doping test result for artificial testosterone, has admitted that he prescribed Prasteron, which contains the forbidden hormone DHEA, to the rider. "I made a mistake, yes," he told Sporza on Friday. "But what I gave him could not have resulted in a positive test for synthetic testosterone.

"I don't want to say much, but there are a lot of sides to this story. This is something that could have much larger implications," he said. "The influences of many people are playing a role here, but I will keep the details to myself. At least for now...."

According to Sportwereld, Vermeire prescribed the drug for Leukemans in August. The doctor admitted this at a team meeting on December 6, "and for this reason his contract at Predictor-Lotto was not extended."

According to Sporza, the doctor said that the drug had "been used for years", and that Vermeire also gave it to other riders. "People who are calling me guilty would do better to look at themselves," he said. "For me, it was just one error. Others cannot say that."

Jan Mathieu, another doctor of the squad, said, "I see no reason why Leukemans needed this. It is only effective for impotence and muscle fatigue. But Bj÷rn is a healthy, 30 year-old top athlete, so I don't think he needs it for those reasons. And if he had those problems, there are other resources available which aren't on the prohibited list."

The product Prasteron is the direct cause of the positive test, according to Douwe de Boer, a Dutch biologist who has been hired as an expert witness by Leukemans' attorney, Johnny Maeschalck. Further, Leukemans was not informed of the "dangers" of the product, putting further guilt on the prescribing doctor, according to the Belgian newspaper De Morgen.

Vermeire denies a link between the product and the positive test. "I am sure that Dr. Vermeire has a sound scientific explanation," said team doctor Daniel De Neve. And Dr. Mathieu asked, "Did Leukemans take too much of the product? Did he combine it with something else? Those could also be realistic explanations."

The team got the good news that its main backer Lotto, whose sponsoring contract expires shortly, had pronounced its confidence in the team. Lotto marketing director Marc Frederix said that he was "very satisfied" with the way the team was handling the matter. "We have been delighted concerning the zero-tolerance policy concerning doping, which the team has consequently applied."

Spanish fed won't sanction Mayo

Spanish cycling's secretary general Eugenio Bermudez has refused to sanction Iban Mayo, the Saunier Duval rider whose positive test for the banned blood boosting hormone EPO raised questions about the UCI's testing procedures. Mayo's 'A-sample' from the second rest day of the 2007 Tour de France was found to be positive for EPO by the Châtenay-Malabry laboratory in Paris, but the 'B-sample' test done in Gent, Belgium was reported as negative by the Spanish federation in October.

The UCI, however, claimed that the result was not negative, but was inconclusive, and sent the remainder of the 'B-sample' back to Paris for another test. The second result was positive. Bermudez objected to the treatment of the 'B-sample' by the UCI. "They wanted that second test because they are more interested in a result that works for them," he said.

Mayo was furious with the procedure, asserting his innocence and calling the third test 'illegal'. Bermudez expects that by refusing to sanction Mayo, his organisation will face strong opposition from the UCI. "It's not voluntary but I expect (a confrontation) to come," Bermudez told The Associated Press. "If there was another manner of doing this we would prefer to do it that way but there doesn't seem to be any other route out of this."

"To satisfy people, what do we have to do? Change the laws? Kill each cyclist's career?," Bermudez asked. "There are laws for everyone – cyclists, politicians, the UCI – and if Mayo had tested positive on that same day he would have been sanctioned," Bermudez said. "But the UCI is reading the rules in its own manner, which just doesn't work for us."

Australian UniSA team for 2008 TDU announced

Six riders have been confirmed for the Australian National UniSA team racing in the upcoming Tour Down Under, with the seventh being decided on January 13 at the end of the Australian Open Road Championships in Ballarat. The rider who wins the elite men's road race will automatically be added to the team.

The 2008 Australia National UniSA team will be made of Allan Davis (QLD), Luke Roberts (SA), Karl Menzies (TAS), Wesley Sulzberger (TAS), Matt Wilson (VIC) and Simon Clarke (VIC). If the winner of the men's road race of the national championships is already listed to ride the Tour Down Under, race selectors will include a rider who posts an outstanding performance in either the road race or time trial.

Mike Turtur, race director of the Tour Down Under, said he was thrilled with the team line-up so far. "In their own right the quality of the 2008 Australian National UniSA team is as competitive as any UCI ProTour team," he commented. Queensland's Allan Davis, the only rider to have ridden all 10 editions of the race, placed second in this year's Milano-Sanremo classic and is a dual Tour Down Under stage winner.

South Australia's Luke Roberts will join the UniSA team with credentials as a Tour Down Under past stage winner and 2004 Olympic Champion in the teams pursuit. Karl Menzies was second overall at the 2007 Tour Down Under, and Matt Wilson is the reigning Herald Sun Tour champion.

Simon Clarke, the 2007 Tour Down Under Best Young Rider and Wesley Sulzberger, silver medallist in the U23 road race at this year's World Championships, will be the youngsters of the team but with the potential to shake up the race.

The UCI ProTour 2008 Tour Down Under will be staged January 22-27, 2008, with the Down Under Classic being held on Sunday, January 20, 2008, at Glenelg.

For more information visit the official website at www.tourdownunder.com.au.

Beloki joins involuntary retiree list

Three time Tour de France podium finisher Joseba Beloki announced that he will retire from cycling on Friday, after trying but failing to find a team for 2008. The former ONCE rider was one of the strongest challengers to Lance Armstrong's string Tour de France victories until a tragic crash on melting tarmac brought him crashing down in 2003. Beloki went on to recover from a broken femur and other injuries, but was never to regain the same level of competition.

"I'm leaving with my head held high, and proud of what I've achieved," Beloki told AFP. "It's been 18 months since I last raced. And in that time I've fought tooth and nail to try and find a team, but it just didn't materialise."

Beloki now joins the ranks of cycling's old guard who wish to continue racing but cannot find contracts, including former World Champion Laurent Brochard and Spain's Oscar Sevilla.

New stage race in Canada

A new road stage race is in the making in Québec, Canada. The inaugural Tour de Québec will be taking place in and around Québec city next autumn. Even though it hasn't been announced officially yet, Canadian Pedal magazine reported the race to take place from September 4-7, 2008.

"According to our internal surveys, we expect to have at least 100 senior men coming from across Canada and USA," race organiser Jean-Michel Lachance was reported as saying. "We won't have any UCI classification for our first year and the Tour de Québec is open to all categories (junior and higher) but only senior men 1-2 riders will compete over the full four days. The other categories will race on Saturday and Sunday."

Five stages are planned for senior men, including a prologue. Cyclists in other categories will ride three stages over two days.

The event had originally been planned for 2007, but would have been sandwiched between the Tour de Beauce and the Canadian Road Championships, rendering the timing too complicated for the teams. Lachance found a better fitting in the calendar for 2008. "After a short survey of some teams, the dates of September 4-7 turn out to be pretty attractive to many of them. Furthermore, the weather at that time of the year tends to be pretty good," he added.

Currently, the only international stage road race in Canada is the Tour de Beauce, scheduled for June 10-15, 2008, planned to finish in Quebec City to commemorate the city's 400th birthday.

For more info on the Tour de Québec, visit www.tourdequebec.com.

Milram training in Tuscany

Team Milram has squeezed in its first training camp this week before the holidays. The German outfit is meeting with 26 riders, management, soigneurs, mechanics and everyone else in Donoratico, Italy. The riders are putting in some training kilometres in Tuscany, posing for photos, taking doping tests and otherwise preparing for the coming season.

The only one missing is Brett Lancaster, who is recovering from a hip operation at his home in Australia.

UCI representatives appeared on Monday to conduct blood tests. On Tuesday, the team was accompanied by a camera team during its training ride to make a promotional video. A photo shoot took place on Wednesday. But all of the meetings and training sessions also served as opportunity for the new team-mates to get to know each other.

Newcomer Christian Kux was impressed. "Everyone is in a good mood and talks to each other, even the Italians with the Germans. We [newcomers] have been welcomed with open arms by the others. Alessandro Petacchi for example is very nice and natural," he said.

Lotz retires

Dutch rider Marc Lotz will retire from the professional cycling scene. His planned comeback with the British Professional Continental team Pedaltech-Cyclingnews has fallen through.

Lotz rode for Team Rabobank from 1998 to 2004 before joining Belgian team Quick.Step. He was suspended in 2005 for two years when a police raid found forbidden performance-enhancer EPO in his refrigerator. Lotz rode for the amateur team L÷wik after his suspension expired this summer.

According to Sporza, Lotz taught math while he was suspended, and now plans to return to the classroom.

2008 teams database online!

Cyclingnews' faithful contributor Théo Müller has again put together the pieces of the elite pro cycling puzzle during the last few weeks and assembled, just in time for the holidays, the 2008 Teams database. At the moment, the database contains only the ProTour teams, and some information may still be subject to change, but it is nevertheless online before we head into the new year.

So, for all of those who couldn't keep up with the rider transfers and signings of the last few months, here is the new 2008 Teams Database. Thank you, Théo!

Cyclingnews Reader's Poll

It's that time of year again - vote for your favourites

(Click to vote)

As the year draws to a close, it's time for you to review the year in cycling and cast your vote in the annual Cyclingnews Readers' Poll.

And as in previous years, we have a wee incentive so you can justify the time and mental exercise: the chance to win a Christmas stocking full of the latest carbon fibre goodies from our friends at Zipp, like the lightest crankset on the market, plus animal-strength handlebars and a classy-looking stem.

So please, contribute to what has become one of the largest global polls of the cycling community and cast your vote. Please try to complete each category and only vote once, as we do a thorough review of the votes and make sure we remove all the duplicates.

Please visit this link to get started.

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