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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News, December 31, 2007

Edited by Sue George

Joly is back on his bike

By Jean-François Quénet in Saint-Quentin

Sébastien Joly
Photo ©: Jean-François Quénet
(Click for larger image)

Sébastien Joly was diagnosed with testicular cancer on June 25, the day of his 28th birthday, after winning Paris-Camembert. Instead of starting the Tour de France with Française des Jeux, he underwent an operation and then completed radiotherapy treatment on September 11.

"I was in a state of semi depression," Joly recalled. "Since I was 15, my life was the one of a full-time and healthy athlete. Cancer is a frightening word."

He resumed training slowly at the end of September. In November, he joined his team-mates for a cyclo-cross training camp in Renazé, the home of the Madiot brothers, his bosses at Française des Jeux. "It was a fabulous feeling to meet my colleagues again," he said. "With what I've experienced, I can say the world of cycling is a real family. I have received supportive messages from many cyclists and staff members, not only from my team."

One noteworthy message of support came from fellow testicular cancer survivor Lance Armstrong on the same day the news was made public. "He offered me his help and I answered nicely to him," said Joly. "It was in French though. I know he understands and I was without strength [so] I couldn't force myself to write in English. Anyway, I thanked him and told him I'd come back to him later if any help was needed but at the time, the doctors were the most important people for my treatment."

Joly tried to keep Armstrong's e-mail secret initially. "I wanted to stay quiet. I didn't want to make any show of my disease. I just wanted to be healthy again. I refused the idea of people looking at me as the French Lance Armstrong, because I'm not. The only thing we've had in common is the same cancer, but not at the same degree.

"Mine was not life threatening. I didn't need chemotherapy. Then there was the prediction that I've heard a few times but which doesn't make me smile at all: people telling me that I'll win seven Tours de France now. Hey, I'm not the guy who was a World Champion age 21. I'm only an average French cyclist. I don't expect to become better; I'd just liked to get back to my level."

At the pre-Christmas Française des Jeux training camp in Saint-Quentin in Picardy, Joly was wearing one more warm riding jacket than everybody else. He was six kilos lighter than one year ago – three kilos of fat and three kilos of muscle were still missing, he reckoned. "I have found the rhythm again," he said with a satisfied large smile. "I have done three hours of intense mountain biking with no problem. On the road, I know that four hours aren't a problem either. I just don't know how I'll cope with six hours rides. And the main uncertainty is the competition. I have no idea what I'll be able to do at races."

Sébastien Joly
Photo ©: Jean-François Quénet
(Click for larger image)

Therefore he hasn't set a date for his come back yet. "It could be in February or in March, it doesn't matter really because I'm not in a situation of setting goals for myself yet," he explained. "I have mixed feelings. I'm impatient to pin a number on my back but I also don't want to make any mistakes in my recovery process. I still have to go for tests once every three months and for a complete check up once every six months. I don't know when I'll be competitive again."

"If in any way I improve on my cycling, it'll be mentally," he continued. "On that aspect, I'm much stronger now. In three months, I've become five years older. I enjoy life and cycling even more than before. I have been shocked by the children I've met at the recovery centre where I had my treatment in Lyon. Shall I get myself involved in a charity action, it'll be for the comfort of the children who have cancer. Two associations have contacted me already. I'm not going to change the medical research but if I can help to raise funding at the level of what I can do, I'll be happy to do it."

In December he rode for the "telethon", which is for diseases other than cancer. "In the past, I'd have done the minimum of what I should do for good actions. Now I see things differently." He hasn't asked Armstrong for help because he didn't need any for his recovery.

"I wouldn't mind speaking with him [Armstrong] now in relation to his foundation because I've learnt a lot about testicular cancer since June and I've been in touch with other athletes who have faced the same disease. In particular, I've met a triathlete, Pierre Dorez, who originally hails from the same French province as me, the Drôme in the Rhone Valley. He has explained to me many things about the communications of scientists from all over the world about testicular cancer research. Sharing our experiences has benefited me a lot. He now promotes his own sports clothing brand, Zerod, and he even sponsors Laurent Jalabert for his triathlon rides."

Joly has kept quiet about his experience and intends to continue to do so. He hopes that when he returns to racing in two or three months, that he won't be looked upon as a curiosity although he knows he'll be a different person after his battle with cancer.

Hammond makes Team High Road debut

By Gregor Brown in Diegem, Belgium

Roger Hammond (Team High Road)
Photo ©: Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

Brit Roger Hammond made the most silent Team High Road debut when he took part in the Superprestige round in Diegem, Belgium, Sunday, December 30. The 33 year-old noted road racer had no markings of the team owned by Bob Stapleton, but was listed in the results and was seen preparing in a camper with the new team name.

"The team bus is not the real thing," he remarked to Cyclingnews of the Team High Road-marked camper that was parked at the race in Middelkerke and in Diegem. "It was done by a supporter of T-Mobile, and I just went there to change and get ready for the race."

Team T-Mobile became known as Team High Road when its title sponsor pulled out in November due to media pressure in Germany and a year of bad press. Hammond started with the formation for 2007, and will continue on with it in 2008.

Team High Road
Photo ©: Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

In fact, Hammond was wearing an Evans Cycles kit over British national team kit. "Evans Cycles gave me a lot of support, bikes and equipment, when I was a junior, and now I can give something back. They sponsored me from the time I was 14 years old."

Hammond went on to explain the race, which he is using for training as he lives near by. "I was stuck back there for the start, and this year there are even more corners... It is good training though. ... I will be racing the British Nationals [January 6], but it is not a priority is just training [for the road season]. I am still about two months away from my top form, so I am still building up really."

For more on Hammond's 'cross racing adventures, read last year's interview from Diegem.

Page in search of support

By Brecht Decaluwé in Diegem

Page
Photo ©: Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

It has been a tumultuous season so far for Jonathan Page. The American cyclo-cross professional pulled off a career highlight in Hooglede-Gits in January 2007, when he finished as runner-up at the World Championships behind Erwin Vervecken. As a consequence Page received a good two-year deal with a professional Belgian team Sunweb-Projob, realizing his long chased dream.

Nevertheless, this season things haven't gone super smoothly. Page got into an argument with his team manager Jurgen Mettepenningen. Feeling the mental weight and bother of the team's pressure on him, Page and Mettepenningen came to an agreement to shorten Page's term at the Belgian team so his contract will end on February 28.

Out from under the pressure, Page's results have recently improved with second place in Middelkerke the highlight so far. With the World Championships at Treviso coming up in less than one month it seems that Page will be ready right in time.

"Many people say, 'He had it.' Now I want to make some people shut their mouth and prove they're wrong," Page said to Cyclingnews.

The runner-up at the US National Championships, behind Tim Johnson, is in search of support for next season. "Support is the right word, because that's what I lacked this year. Whether it's a team or individual sponsorship isn't so important; it is important that I feel good in the situation. I don't know whom to trust anymore, so right now I can only trust myself and get results. Hopefully the rest will follow," Page said.

At the Superprestige Round #6 in Diegem Sunday, Page finished tenth, near the back of the main group chasing winner Sven Nys.

Niermann out with influenza

After Rabobank's Grischa Niermann came down with a case of influenza and having to curtail training, he will not start the Tour Down Under, the first ProTour event of 2008 and also the first-ever ProTour event in Australia from January 20-27. According to wielrensite.nl, Niermann will be replaced by Theo Eltink.

Ullrich's Olympic medals in danger?

By Susan Westemeyer

Is Jan Ullrich in danger of losing his Olympic medals from the 2000 games in Sydney? Possibly, said Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee. The statute of limitations has not run out on the German cyclist, who won the gold medal in the road race and the silver medal in the time trial, he said. The IOC is investigating whether Ullrich was doping when he won.

Interviewed in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Rooge noted that the statute of limitations which applies to this case runs eight years, that is, through September 2008. "We started our investigation before the eight-year deadline. The statute of limitations would only have been effective if there had been no movement at all in the case."

Rogge applauded the withdrawal of various sponsors from cycling, saying. "That is not bad. The cheats must see that they are undermining their sport."

What most disturbed him in cycling this year, he said, was the doping practices of the Freiburger University Clinic, which this year came to light. "To see what happened in Freiburg, that just totally shocked me. I had never thought anything like that could happen."

Franke speaks (again) about 2006 T-Mobile riders

German anti-doping crusader Dr. Werner Franke has now claimed that the T-Mobile 2006 Tour de France team all went to the Freiburg University Clinic for blood-doping. "According to my information, the whole T-Mobile Team lay there and was pumped full with their own red blood cells," he said in a radio interview with www.hr-online.de.

Dr. Franke did not offer any details or proof to support his claims, or reveal his source. It is the latest in a series of speculative and damaging assertions made as part of the German media's ongoing investigations into professional road cycling. The country's mass media has been aggressive in its reporting of many claims made by current and former German cyclists. It's believed that these reports in the German media contributed significantly to the decision by T-Mobile to withdraw its support of the country's national professional cycling team.

Former T-Mobile rider Patrik Sinkewitz has claimed that he drove to the clinic on the evening after the first stage of the '06 Tour for a blood transfusion. Earlier this month the Süddeutsche Zeitung said that it had information that at least five riders from the Tour squad were involved.

The only two riders from that 2006 team who will be on ProTour squads in 2008 are Michael Rogers (Team High Road) and Andreas Klöden (Team Astana). Klöden spoke with Johan Bruyneel at the beginning of December and assured him that he wasn't involved in the affair. "We believe his statements," said new Astana spokesman, Philippe Maertens.

Team High Road (formerly Team T-Mobile in 2007) had no comment on Franke's accusations. (It should be pointed out that the 2006 men's T-Mobile team was not under High Road Sports management during the 2006 road season, including the Tour de France.)

In late October, in response to accusations by Sinkewitz, the then team spokesman Stefan Wagner had told the dpa agency, "We spoke with Rogers, and he told us he was not involved in doping practices in T-Mobile Team in 2006. He is part of our strict anti-doping programme. And he follows this one hundred percent." The UCI later cleared Rogers of doping implications in conjunction with Sinkewitz in November.

Injured Liptrot joined by parents

South Australian cyclist Shamus Liptrot was seriously injured on the first day of the two-day track carnival in Devonport. He was one of several riders to crash in the sprint around the final bend during the Men's C grade scratch.

After careening over the fence, Liptrot was treated for his injuries by ambulance personnel at the scene before being taken to the Burnie Hospital with a fractured skull, jaw and femur and severe blood loss according to Australia's ABC news. He parents travelled to Tasmania to be with their son who was transported to the Royal Hobart Hospital the morning after the crash.

"My understanding is that Shamus is still unconscious," said Cycling South Australia director Max Stevens to ABC news. "He hasn't regained consciousness after being airlifted from Burnie to Hobart and that's where our focus is at the moment."

Venezuela's Copa América teams

Venuzuela confirmed its teams for the eighth edition of the Copa América, set for January 6 in Rio de Janeiro on a circuit through the Parque de Flamengo - the same place the Pan American Games were held.

Elite and U23 men will race 42km and earn points in the UCI Americas Tour in order to help qualify for the 2008 World Championships in Varese in Italy. National Champion Tomas Gil in addition to Miguel Ubeto, José Aguilar and Isaac Cañizalez are expected to compete against riders from Agentina, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay and, of course, Brazil. On the women's side, National Champion Daniely García along with Karelia Machado and Angie González will contest the 21km event as they search for points toward qualification for the Beijing Olympics.

Cyclingnews Reader's Poll - last chance tonight!

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

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