First Edition Cycling News, December 26, 2007
Edited by Ben Abrahams & Sue George with assistance from Susan Westemeyer
Ivan Basso: Picking up the pieces
It seemed not so long ago that Ivan Basso was firmly placed in the fast lane to cycling stardom, but the window of opportunity to bask in the glory of his Giro d'Italia success was cut short when rumours of Basso's involvement in Operación Puerto became a grim reality. After serving more than half of his two-year suspension, the Italian sat down for an interview with Cyclingnews' Kirsten Robbins.
The 31 year-old from Cassano Magnago, Varese is now less than one year away from a potential return to competition, being eligible to race from October 24, 2008. And according to Basso it will be ten months of time well spent, preparing for whatever professional contract might come his way in 2009. With no races on his plate, the husband of Micaela and father of five year-old Domitilla and two year-old Santiago has been able to spend more time with his family while still attending several weekly cycling functions and charity events as the new face for Intervita, a humanity organisation dedicated to helping orphaned children around the world.
Above all, though, he continues to allocate five hours every day to rigorous training, testing and retesting his wattage numbers against previous data collected. However, the biggest training problem he faces is not the additional two kilograms gained compared to last year, but not having the Grand Tour riders to race against, to push him to his limits. Thus he climbs alone over the twisting Varesine mountains; Cuvignone and Campo dei Fiori, and it has become an increasing mental game with his SRM power meter.
"I'm not riding my bike to be healthy or fit, I like to feel like a rider; I like to make a good test on the climbs and in the time trials," said Basso, enthusiastic to talk about his epic training rides through the mountains. "Training for me is not to go out on the bike and ride two, three or four hours and then everything is OK. There is a schedule that I continue to respect and since I'm more flexible compared to when I used to be preparing for a Grand Tour, I can still be very severe when I'm training because I think that I need to face my bike seriously."
To read the full interview with Ivan Basso, click here.
Stapleton happy with progress
By Shane Stokes
As the weeks and days tick down to the start of the new season, Team High Road general manager Bob Stapleton has expressed his satisfaction with the progress made thus far in the restructuring of the squad. At the end of November the then-T-Mobile team was rocked by the news that the German telecommunications company was pulling out as main sponsor, and that secondary backers such as Adidas and Audi were also stopping.
One month on, Stapleton has been pleasantly surprised as to how things have gone. "On every level the support for the team has been amazing," he told Cyclingnews in recent days. "All of our sponsors and suppliers have been very enthusiastic. We got basically a full sponsor line-up for next year, except for cars. Cars always take a little longer because they are big companies and their budgets are set earlier in the year. But I don't view that as anything that hurts our team. That's something that will come, it will just take longer [to finalise]."
Stapleton reports that there have been already some talks with interested companies about the vacant title sponsor slot, but said that the team will take its time in working out a new deal. "For us, the main thing is to get the team in full and strong operation, very focused on being an exceptional team that stands out from the rest.
"In terms of potential title sponsors, we have what we need for the next year or so and, if we are careful, the next two years," he continued, referring to the contract severance deal that was eked out with T-Mobile. "There have been some talks [with potential backers], more interest than I am really able to deal with, frankly, but we are going to take our time. I came into this with a powerful sponsor that wanted to do big things in T-Mobile, and that is the kind of sponsor we are looking for. Somebody who will make a significant long-term commitment to the sport."
He declined to elaborate on the payout from the German telecommunications company, which has been estimated in some media reports - rightly or wrongly - as being in the range of €20- €25 million. "Unfortunately I can't say anything about the terms and conditions of the separation from T-Mobile," the Californian stated. "There are a lot of reports in the media, a lot of speculation, but I really can't comment on them.
"For me, the basic issue was do I want to stay, to keep the team together, to keep these guys on their bikes? So this was never from me about the money or trying to bring in new sponsors. It started off with the question if I wanted to screw up a bunch of people's careers, people who didn't do anything wrong? If we had folded the team, these guys were all damaged.
"I really felt it [continuing] was the right thing to do for everybody. To keep the team going, to maintain our operations and thus give these guys a chance to show what they could do."
A full interview with Bob Stapleton will appear soon on Cyclingnews.
UCI says biological passport ready for 2008
With less than a week remaining until its planned introduction date of January 1, the UCI has insisted its biological passport system will be ready in time for the 2008 season. Doubts about the system's readiness center around logistical problems from the number of blood tests required, and the significantly increased workload on the UCI's anti-doping laboratory in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Under the new system, riders' blood samples will be used to create a haematological profile, from which individual limits can be calculated; instead of the current 50 percent haematocrit level required to prevent a rider from racing. The UCI also says that abnormalities in the haematological profile will be sufficient to open a doping case, using similar principles to forensic medical science to determine the likelihood of guilt.
With each rider expected to need six blood samples for creation of their haematological profile, the UCI must gather samples from all ProTour teams and Continental teams given wild card entries to ProTour events - a total of 4200 tests needed before the 2008 Tour de France, according to AFP.
Additionally, the UCI plans to create a steroid profile for each rider - similar to the haematological profile but based on urine analysis rather than blood - and constantly obtain details of riders' whereabouts. According to a UCI press release, "Riders will be encouraged to provide specific information about their location in the mornings before training. This will ensure blood samples are collected consistently, most importantly before physical effort."
Despite the increased workload, UCI anti-doping manager Anne Gripper said that the new system would be ready. "The groups working together are to name a panel of seven experts to decipher the possible variations of the riders haematological levels," she told AFP.
According to the UCI, the system is estimated to cost around 5.3 million euros in 2008 (3 million of which funds the haematological profile), and will be financed by the UCI, teams, riders, WADA and the French Ministry of Sport.
Pooley scouts Beijing course
Emma Pooley of Team Specialized Designs for Women has joined the ranks of those who have checked out the parcours in Beijing for next summer's Olympic Games. The Briton hopes to ride both the time trial and the road race.
Interviewed on the team's website, team-specialized.com, she said that she didn't look at the first part of the road race course, from Tiananmen Square to the Badaling Expressway. After that though, she noted, "there are a lot climbing metres, so you have to be a good climber. How difficult this climb will be, with totally different climate conditions, is hard to tell at this point. But it could well be that this climb will be deciding."
The time trial starts and ends at the Great Wall. "The course pleases me very much," she said. "The first half actually just goes up, and the descent is fast and not at all technical. Plus the view is great."
The trip halfway around the world was worthwhile. "I now have a much better idea of the courses and what a challenge they offer," Pooley said. "I am really looking forward to the race. I hope that I will be strong enough next year to be chosen. At any rate, I am very motivated to train and improve myself - with this goal in mind!"
Klinger looks back at neo-pro year
Tim Klinger's neo-pro year with Gerolsteiner was not an easy one. The doping scandals that hit professional cycling, especially German cycling, took their toll on him. "As all the confessions came out, that was quite a shock to me," he said. "Cycling has taken a big blow to its image. I hope things will improve now. A lot of things have changed and I think that I belong to the group of people that cycling is now counting on."
The 23 year-old, interviewed in the Westdeutsche Zeitung, applauded the new anti-doping steps being taken in the sport. "More unannounced out-of-competition controls and a blood passport for every athlete, these are the right steps to take," he said, noting that he was tested "only" three times in 2007.
"It was a great first pro year for me, even if there ups and downs. But I saw that I am not so far behind the best riders," he said confidently. "Riding the Vuelta a España to the end was like winning the Tour."
His training group in his new hometown of Emmendigen won't let him relax in the off-season - it happens to consist of his directeurs sportif Christan Henn, Reimund Dietzen, Christian Wegmann and Michael Rich, which the youngster calls "a great training group. I have never regretted the move, because conditions here are optimal." He is combining cross-country skiing, riding, and mountain biking.
Klinger is trying something new this off-season: an altitude tent to sleep in. "I'm sleeping at 2500 metres high right now," he claimed. Personal sponsors helped him buy the tent. "I'm trying it out - it is all totally legal, of course."
Jacques-Maynes makes remarkable comeback ending in national title
Less than seven months ago, Andy Jacques-Maynes (Cal Giant Strawberries) suffered life-threatening injuries in severe crash during a race in late May in California. Less than two weeks ago, he won the USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championship in the Masters 30-34 category in Kansas City.
"My brother had a horrific crash on Memorial Day in the last corner of a crit, he went into the curb and straight into a pole," said Ben on his blog, www.benjacquesmaynes.missingsaddle.com, soon after the accident. Andy spent a week in the ICU "with multiple fractures and a collapsed lung."
Among his 15 broken bones were ten involving his spine, including one of which is usually linked with paralysis below the waist. He also suffered one bruised lung, one punctured lung, a torn hand ligament, and a concussion according to the Santa Cruz Sentinel. ""I was in a bad way for a while," said Jacques-Maynes.
Well before the accident, Jacques-Maynes had set cyclo-cross nationals as a goal. Such an accident might have derailed any one less determined."The hardest part was deciding that's what you're going to do when you're lying in the hospital bed bleeding and all you want to do is go back to sleep," said Jacques-Maynes, who credited positive thinking and working toward a specific goal with his successful and relatively speedy recovery.
Following his crash, Jacques-Maynes resigned from his role as road bike product manager for Specialized to focus fully on his recovery and was supported in large part throughout by fellow racer Josie Beggs, who became his wife this summer following the accident.
His road to recovery was not smooth. Just after winning his first cyclo-cross race back following his accident, a fall while running the course resulted in a broken collarbone. According to the Sentinel, a steel plate and seven screws led to still more recovering to be done. Fortunately, this time around, his injuries were less severe, and he was back in action in time for the National Championships.
"After six months of work (and workouts!), I achieved my season's goal to win the 30-34 cyclo-cross National Championship! It was so intense, and such a gnarly race," said Andy Jacques-Maynes on his website, www.getwellandy.blogspot.com.
One day after his national title win, Jacques-Maynes also finished an impressive sixth in the elite men's race. Looking ahead, he is determined to make it to the top of the pro ranks and is hoping to take the next step by racing with a still to be determined pro team in the Tour of California.
Volksbank rider dies in car accident
Andreas Matzbacher of Team Volksbank has died in a car accident on Christmas Eve after losing control of his vehicle and crashing head-on into an overhead signpost, the team announced Tuesday. The 25 year-old suffered head injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.
"In deepest shock, the Team Volksbank announces that our rider, friend and colleague Andreas Matzbacher lost his life yesterday, December 24, 2007, in the evening hours in a tragic accident," the Austrian Professional Continental team said. "At the age of 25 years, 'Mazi' was torn out of life on Christmas Eve and leaves a deep hole in our midst. The whole team expresses its sympathy to his family."
Matzbacher would have turned 26 on January 7. He turned professional with Saeco in 2004 and rode with Lampre in 2005 before joining Volksbank in 2006. He had one UCI victory: the GP Judendorf-Straßengel in 2004.
Cyclingnews extends its condolences to the team and family.
Zabriskie among top riders for Tour of the Bahamas
David Zabriskie is among the top riders expected to race the fifth annual Tour of the Bahamas on February 2-3, 2008, in Nassau. He'll be backed up by his Team Slipstream-Chipotle team-mates for the omnium-style race that consists of an individual time trial and circuit race on Saturday and a road race on Sunday.
In addition to Slipstream, teams already confirmed are AEG-TOSHIBA-Jet Network, Kelly Benefit Strategies/ Medifast, Rite Aid, VMG- Felt (U-23), TriStar, and Trek/Team19.
Neotel Track Festival draws top South African racers
The Neotel Track Cycling Festival, starting December 29 at the Faure Street Stadium in Paarl, will draw some of South Africa's top track riders for racing on the boards.
Neotel Team Captain Nolan Hoffman will race along with Garth Thomas, Chris Willemse Jr. and Abdelbasat Hanachi from the CSC squad; James Louter and Gadi Chait from Gauteng; and veteran cyclist Mark Strydom. Others who happen to be in the area training will attend like Jamie Ball, Jay Thompson, Arren Brown, Dean Edwards, Mike Thompson, James Louter and Liam de Roche.
"It is good to see that the track scene is being revived through a number of events and initiatives across South Africa. Track cycling is a very good starting point, especially for youngsters. If you look at some of the top riders in world, many have had their start on the track," said Hoffman.
"The Australian model is a key example, you have the likes of Stuart O'Grady, Baden Cooke and Bradley McGee all top professionals racing in the Pro Tour and these riders have come through an established track programme," said Hoffman.
Cyclingnews Reader's Poll
It's that time of year again - vote for your favourites
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