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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, December 29, 2007

Edited by Gregor Brown and Laura Weislo

Kelly on track for a record fifth Olympics

By Paul Verkuylen in Launceston

Shane Kelly
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image)

Shane Kelly has already attended four Olympic Games in his long and distinguished career, but retirement is the furthest thing from his mind as he prepares for an assault on the Beijing Olympics a little over eight months away.

"I am still enjoying it, that the main thing. If all goes well and I get to Beijing and have a great event there and a great result, it'd be silly if I didn't go on," he told Cyclingnews during a break in the program at the Launceston track carnival.

No other Australian cyclist has ever attended more than four Olympics in the history of the games, and if Kelly qualifies himself for his fifth games, the 35-year-old will be in a league of his own.

Kelly began his Olympic career in 1992 as a kilo rider, an event that no longer features in the program. He took three world titles in the event, and a bronze medal in the 2000 games in Sydney. Since the Athens Olympics he has transformed himself from a kilo rider to a sprinter and keirin rider, and took a bronze medal in the keirin in Athens, but admits that he would have gone in that direction regardless of whether the event was included or not.

"Athens was my last kilo as far as I was concerned. I had given everything that I had to the kilo. But I think I would have gone in that direction anyway." Kelly took fourth place in the kilo in Athens.

Kelly is in Tasmania chasing more UCI points as well as honing his skills against some of the best competition around. He and the Victorian Institute of Sport team have had some exciting battles with the Japanese team, with the score currently at one all in the team sprint series.

After Tasmania Kelly will head back to Adelaide for more training before heading to the Los Angeles round of the World Cup and the Nationals in Sydney just a week and a half after Los Angeles.

It has not yet been decided if Kelly will take part in the Copenhagen round of the World Cup. "It will depend on how L.A. goes and who still needs to get points to qualify for the Olympics," he explained.

It is too early to say whether or not Kelly will make the team for his fifth successive Olympics, but he seems quietly confident that he is within a fighting chance.

"I am slowly putting marks on the board here and there but I still have a lot of work to do. I am not there at all as a definite yet, but I am certainly putting marks on the board," he said.

See also the full coverage of the Tasmanian carnivals and the Launceston event.

ENECO confirms as race sponsor

By Susan Westemeyer

Another race sponsor has confirmed its continuing interest in cycling – ENECO Energie has announced its intention of remaining as sponsor of the ENECO Tour, which runs through the Netherlands and Belgium.

However, the energy firm's continued presence depends on whether the 2008 race is as well organized as the 2007 edition, according to This past August, Iván Gutiérrez of Caisse d'Epargne beat Thomas Dekker of Rabobank to take the overall win in the last stage.

The race is scheduled for August 20 to 27, 2008.

Casper considers suing Unibet, reflects on Kemmelberg

By Susan Westemeyer ran into a difficult 2007 season
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

Jimmy Casper is considering suing for contract violations after the ProTour team was downgraded for the 2008 season to Professional Continental. The reduced ranking as well as a decreased budget has prompted several riders to seek other contracts. The 29-year-old Frenchman, a serious victim of the crash in Gent-Wevelgem, faces taking a pay cut or finding new team.

"I had a contract for two years, but by the disappearance of the sponsor, I have to go look for a new team after only one year," he told "If I go to the follow-up team [Cycle Collstrop] I will have to take a forty percent pay cut. That is not fair.

"First, the sporting side was not respected, because we could not ride the ProTour races, and now the financial side is not in order. I am still negotiating, but I do not eliminate the possibility of going to court," he continued.

Hilaire Van der Schueren, sports director of Cycle Collstrop, has said that he had reached an agreement with Casper, but the French rider denied any accord. "No. There is a proposal. But whether I accept it, is something else."

"Stop the slaughter"

Jimmy Casper was an unlucky victim of the Kemmelberg
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

The noted sprinter looked back at the slaughter on the Kemmelberg, where he went face-first into the cobblestones as one of the victims of the mass crash in the Gent-Wevelgem race this past April.

It was an event that changed his life, he said. "I can now tell what is important and what is not. In the earlier days, I knew that my wife and children were the most important things in my life, but now... if I had not worn a helmet, I may have been even further behind on the Kemmelberg. Then my children wouldn't have a father now. That is not worth trying to win a race for."

The rider remembers all the details of the crash. Right in front of him, Filippo Pozzato of Liquigas swerved to avoid a fallen water bottle. The Italian stayed upright, but when Casper had to brake, "with those carbon wheels I had no chance at all."

At first, he did not think his injuries were so bad. "As I lay on the cobblestones, with the blood covering my face, I only felt tingles. No pain. When I tried to talk, I realized my tongue was torn. And in the ambulance I realized there was something wrong with my right wrist."

That "something wrong" turned out to be several fractures. "Every half-hour the diagnosis became worse: at first I had two breaks in my wrist, then three and after some more scans, it was five. One more or less, what difference does it make," he said laughing.

The facial injuries looked dramatic. While he doesn't list them, they have been variously reported as a broken nose and a broken eye orbit, as well as numerous cuts, including the torn tongue.

However, the worst was still to come. Casper was transferred to a hospital in Amiens, nearer his home. The next morning, "I had a violent pain in my wrist. They gave me pain-killers, but it just got worse. I started to scream, cry, and writhe in pain. Stop, stop, give me something, I called to the nurses. But they could do nothing because there was no doctor around. Two and a half hours later my wife and parents came to visit, and still nothing had happened. It was terrible for them to see me suffering."

Finally, a doctor appeared and gave him morphine to kill the pain. "It seems that I had a haemorrhage that pressed on the nerve. If it had gone on much longer I would have lost the feeling in my fingers."

He holds the race organisers responsible for the problems. "What can you think of organizers who continue to use the descent after so many incidents?" adding, "That is not sport, that is a slaughter.

"The UCI takes a hard stand when it comes to doping. It has to do the same when it comes to the safety of a parcours." The Kemmelberg descent may be "the monument of Gent-Wevelgem", but "it is no longer possible. If they put it on the route next year, I will post myself on the Kemmel wearing a t-shirt with a photo of the crash on it and a slogan: Stop the slaughter!"

Fans may see Casper's shirt as the race organisers announced in late November that the Kemmelberg will reappear in the 2008 edition of the Spring Classic.

GPS tracking for athletes?

Two Swedish Olympic track and field champions, Carolina Klüft, heptathlon, and Stefan Holm, high jump, have come out in support of the idea of having athletes implanted with GPS chips to more easily track their whereabouts for antidoping controls.

"I have suggested earlier that you could operate a data chip under the skin on athletes on a certain level. Or maybe use a chain ring with a GPS transmitter on the training bag. Then everyone would know where to find us for tests. I wouldn't complain. I think we are obligated to accept most things to stop doping," said Klüft who won the women's pentathlon gold in Athens 2004. "You are so supervised anyway so it wouldn't make much of a difference.

"That would be the easiest way even though it sounds science fiction and absurd," said high jump champion Stefan Holm.

The idea of GPS implants was debated earlier this year by Australian blood doping expert Michael Ashenden on an Icelandic forum in November. Ashenden described the merits of implementing the system on the forum, "With the GPS system you can establish the precise whereabouts of the athlete. If the athlete is not in the position the location system says when NADA (National Anti Doping Agency) wants to take a test, then he must be penalized."

It is the same as the old way, where the athletes have to inform the anti-doping authorities of their whereabouts 24 hours a day, and be in a certain place at a certain time every day where they can be located."

Ashenden went on to opine that the system would be inexpensive and no more intrusive than the current system. This year saw the most famous case of whereabouts violations occur when Tour de France leader Michael Rasmussen was dismissed from his team mid-race for lying about his training locations prior to the Tour.

Tomas Nilsson contributed to this report.

Franzoi stops to recuperate for Worlds

By Gregor Brown

Italian Champion Enrico Franzoi takes a pausa to focus on World Championships in Italy
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

Italian cyclo-cross specialist Enrico Franzoi will take a forced break from competition after injuries to his ankle caused him pain during the World Cup in Hofstade on December 26. The 25 year-old finished 14th in the event, however, severe pain in his left ankle, which he injured in a previous World Cup in Koksijde, has forced him to return to Italy rather than continue racing in Belgium.

The Lampre-Fondital rider, who will transfer to Liquigas as of 2008, injured his ankle during a crash in the first metres of the Koksijde World Cup at the end of November. Franzoi explained his decision to La Gazzetta dello Sport on Thursday. "I would have liked to race tomorrow [Friday in Loenhout - ed.], Saturday and Sunday, but I will return to Italy and undergo magnetic resonance checks. I have to say that this problem worsens when I am running, while on my bike it is better. However, I have to remove any doubts."

The forced pause is a blow to the Italian Cyclo-cross champion, who wishes to make a good showing at the upcoming World Championships, January 27, in his home region of Veneto. It is now likely that he will alter his race schedule and skip the defence of his Italian title (January 6) to give his full focus to the World Championships, where he finished third in 2007. The last time the Worlds were held in Italy (in Monopoli) Franzoi struck gold as an under 23 rider.

"We will see," he continued. "It is too early to say that the Worlds are at risk. Certainly, I did not want this setback; it's upsetting. It really bothers me that I am only mentioned when there are problems, and the successes go ignored."

Franzoi's early-season was impressive thanks to a win in Lebbeke. "The attention that the media gives to 'cross is minimal consider the sacrifices that are made... Anyhow, I can't wait to vent this frustration on the bike." 

Jamieson happy to ride at home

By Paul Verkuylen in Launceston

Mark Jamieson
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image)

For Mark Jamieson, the Tasmanian Christmas carnivals probably haven't come at the best time, but for the Tasmanian local he is just happy to be riding in front of family and friends. "My family and friends don't get to see me race much. I am not in the best of form but it is good to come out here and race."

The young Olympic hopeful is in the middle of a big training block that has seen him doing some tough training on the roads in his home state."I have been doing two to three hours before each days racing," he explained. "We did 140km in the hills yesterday."

Jamieson, who is focusing all his energy on getting a spot for the Olympics, was pleased to see such a huge crowd in Launceston, and believes that having Shane Kelly in the field is a big draw card.

The last time Kelly visited the carnivals Jamieson was just 11 years old - a child with aspirations of one day representing his country on the bike. "I was here when Kelly set the lap record back in 1996. Back then I was just a kid, but I remember shaking his hand and having a bit of a chat," he said. "It was an inspiration to see him do that back then [break the lap record]."

Jamieson must have taken inspiration from one of his heroes as shortly after Kelly took the Kierin final, he lined up in the scratch race, going on the win the event by lapping the field. "I have been to world and Commonwealth games but nothing beats the atmosphere of the Christmas carnivals," he explained. 

Dag-Otto Lauritzen now dance-Otto?

Thorsen and Lauritzen
Photo ©: TV2/John Pierce
(Click for larger image)

Years ago, cycling commentator Phil Liggett exclaimed, "He's dancing on the pedals in a most immodest way!" when describing the climbing style of Norwegian rider Dag Otto Lauritzen. Since retiring in 1994, Lauritzen has picked up dancing in different but more traditional manner. He and his partner Gyda Svela-Thorsen took part in the Norwegian version of the television programme Dancing with the Stars (Skal vi Danse) this year, and made it as far as third place before being eliminated in November.

Lauritzen did well to make the podium in the dance competition, but described the experience as frightening, "Dancing was good, I was third place and very happy." He described his partner as "lovely and fun", but said the competition was "very scary, but okay". After being eliminated, he went on a ski holiday.

Lauritzen is most famous as a cyclist for his stage win in the 1987 Tour de France, which inspired Liggett to invent one of his signature phrases, "dancing on the pedals". He also won a stage of the Vuelta a España and Olympic bronze medal (1984) as well as numerous Norwegian championships. He was a professional cyclist for ten years, spending a good portion of his career racing for the American teams 7-eleven and Motorola.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by TV2/John Pierce/Photosport International

De Vlaeminck rates young Belgians

By Susan Westemeyer

Tom Boonen faces criticism from one of Belgium's greats
Photo ©:
(Click for larger image)

Belgian Classics legend Roger de Vlaeminck was not impressed by Tom Boonen in 2007, but pointed out the performances of other Belgians. The elder criticised his compatriot in a recent interview with Belgian newspaper Le Derniere Heure.

"What has Boonen accomplished in 2007?" he questioned. "Nothing. He won the green jersey in the Tour de France, but [Robbie] McEwen dropped out early and [Alessandro] Petacchi wasn't even there.

"In the mountains, Boonen always rode just ahead of the broom wagon. He only had to follow his team-mates and sprint for 200 metres," said de Vlaeminck.

Boonen's team-mate Gert Steegmans came in for criticism, too. "He is no more than a helper. He won his Tour stage by chance."

On the other hand, the Belgian had good words for Stijn Devolder, Philippe Gilbert and Greg Van Avermaet. "They rode with character."

De Vlaeminck, 60, ruled the cobbled-classic, Paris-Roubaix; he rode it 14 times in his 15-year career, winning it four times. He won Milano-Sanremo three times, the Giro di Lombardia twice, Tirreno-Adriatico six times, and the Omloop Het Volk twice, including winning it as his very first professional race. His palmarès also include two Belgian national road championship titles and 22 Giro d'Italia stages.

Howe injured in Hofstade

By Brecht Decaluwé in Hertsberge

Barbara Howe (Velo Bella)
Photo ©: Laura Weislo
(Click for larger image)

Cyclingnews diarist Barbara Howe suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon at the World Cup race in Hofstade on December 26, and will be out of the remainder of the Belgian holiday cyclo-cross races.

One day after the incident Cyclingnews caught up with Howe as she returned from hospital, at the Cycling Center in Hertsberge. "It happened during the third lap when I was preparing to land my foot as I was jumping off the bike. Then it felt as if someone hit me from behind," Howe explained.

Howe underwent surgery the same day and stayed in the hospital for the night, Bernard Moerman from the Cycling Center explained. It appears that the tendon snapped before landing her foot, which is unusual. "I know," Howe wondered, "I've been thinking about this all day long to figure out when it triggered, but I still don't know." For now, Howe is staying in Europe as scheduled and then she will fly back next week with a plaster around her right foot.

After the accident there were problems getting her bike and helmet back. "A spectator was really nice and gave his coat to me. I told him to bring the bike and helmet to the pit." Obviously the spectator didn't find his way that easily, and for a moment the mechanics were afraid the material was lost, but both bike and helmet was found in the end.

Caucchioli welcomes Tommaso

By Gregor Brown

Grand Tour rider Pietro Caucchioli of Crédit Agricole has become a father for the second time. The 32 year-old Italian from Verona and his wife Eva welcomed son Tommaso to the world Thursday, December 27. Their first child, a girl, was born in June, 2005.

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