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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for February 5, 2007

Edited by Gregor Brown

Pre-season Disco: Discovery Channel training in Solvang

Armstrong and Basso
Photo ©: Kirsten Robbins
(Click for larger image)

For the past few years, Solvang, California has been home to the pre-season camp for the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team. The quaint Danish town sits amid some of the most scenic terrain in the state, and quiet roads that are perfect for training. As riders and management convened at the Royal Scandinavian Inn, Cyclingnews' Kirsten Robbins was there to find out what the team is doing to prepare for the upcoming season.

One of the riders' favourite parts of the camp is the new clothing and equipment hand-out. When the full team arrived in the lobby to ride at 10am sharp, U.S. national champion George Hincapie stood out in his stars and stripes version of the team jersey, as did Japanese national champion Fumiyuki Beppu, who was distinguishable in his red an white rendition of Discovery's uniform. The rest of the team showed off the team's new, predominanly black kits.

One rider going into 2007 with a great deal of momentum is Tom Danielson, who took a stage win and sixth place overall in the Vuelta a Espana. The camp offered a chance for Danielson and his teammates to have some quality time together on and off the bike. "The training camp does a good job of bonding the team together and that's the clear purpose." said Danielson. "They put riders in rooms together that don't know each other. We train five or six hours together and that provides a lot of time to rotate through the group and talk with everyone, to see each other's talent on the bike."

Read the full Discovery Channel feature.

Crash overshadows fourth Langkawi stage finish

By Greg Johnson in Kuala Terengganu

Jegou & Zargari fall in the bunch sprint
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

A thrilling sprint finish to the Tour of Langkawi's Stage 4 was overshadowed by an alarming crash which saw two riders taken to hospital, with one confirmed to be sitting out the remaining stages. Française des Jeux rider Lilian Jegou and Azad University Team's Amir Zargari crashed heavily to the ground 60 metres from the finish line after making contact with one another as the 178 kilometre stage culminated in a bunch sprint.'s Wesley Sulzberger was riding behind the pair during their coming together and, with no place to go, he was caught up in the accident. "It's just a normal sprint finish, it's chaos," explained the former Under 21 Australian road champion immediately after the incident. "A guy hit a wheel in front of me, then I hit a wheel and we were all down. It's just the way it is. Cuts and grazes is all I can feel at the moment, so I will be there tomorrow."

Lilian was taken immediately from the scene to the hospital after awkwardly falling into a spectator barrier. Française des Jeux officials have confirmed the rider will retire from the Tour, after he suffered a hairline fracture to his fourth finger in the crash.

Zargari, who also fell awkwardly, was treated at the scene for heavy grazing to his left thigh and knee before being placed on a stretcher and taken to hospital by ambulance. The Iranian's team is expected to announce overnight whether he will return to the race tomorrow.

While neither rider was available to comment on how the incident unfolded, UCI president Pat McQuaid was pleased with the speed at which the medical team acted. "You can't ask for any more than that," noted McQuaid, who witnessed the incident first hand while visiting the race as a guest of the organisers.

Gimondi on Pantani film and cyclist

Pantani and Gimondi in 2001
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

In August 2, 1998, Felice Gimondi scaled the top of the Tour de France podium for a second time, 33 years after the first. Il Bergamasco won the Tour in 1965 but was called by race director Jean-Marie Leblanc in 1998 to present the winner, Italian Marco Pantani. Eight years later after that summer, the classy Italian got a similar call, this time for a film about the life of the fallen cyclist, Il Pirata-Marco Pantani, which airs tonight, February 5, in Italy.

"Jean-Marie Leblanc called me and asked 'would you like to present your successor?'" explained the 64 year-old to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "I went and raised the arm of Marco Pantani. In this moment the winner of the Tour enters into history, never to exit. It is a euphoria that, maybe, the Worlds does not even come close to.

"When they called me to participate in the film and repeat the same screen, I thought it was appropriate that I said 'yes,'" continued Gimondi who will cameo as himself in Il Pirata-Marco Pantani. "The first take went well, and maybe it would have been enough. But it is like photography; the more you take the better it is. And we repeated the scene five times."

After Pantani's 1998 Tour de France win, Gimondi briefly worked with Il Pirata for 2000 and half of 2001 at Mercatone Uno. "He won two stages at the Tour, on Mont Ventoux and at Courchevel. It was in this day, on Ventoux, that for the first time I had the impression that he listened to my advice.

Pantani on Ventoux
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

"The night before the stage, in the hotel I recommended to him 'watch out, be attentive and don't ride outside of yourself. I had tried to follow Poulidor and Motta [in 1965], but I risked blowing up, and I finished in third.' He understood this, and without caving into the tension of following the attacks."

But being in the Mercatone Uno squad also allowed Gimondi to see that Pantani had his dark moments. "Sometimes I would see him act strange. For dinner he did not come and join the team, preferring to stay in his room. To eat and drink together is an important part in building a group; recounting stories, laughing, joking ...

"He had talent. On Oropa [in 1999 Giro d'Italia] he did a number. He had mechanical problems, remounted and then recaptured around 50 riders, and at the finish line he was not even convinced he had caught everyone," recalled Gimondi (The 2007 Giro will hold a mountain time trial up Oropa to remember Pantani.) Was it possible without drugs? "Nothing can transform a donkey into a race horse."

Local viewing time of Il Pirata-Marco Pantani is February 5, at 21:10 on Rai Uno.

Wiggins: Landis "took us riders for fools"

By Susan Westemeyer

Bradley Wiggins
Photo ©: Régis Garnier
(Click for larger image)

Bradley Wiggins of Cofidis is ashamed of his sport. "After last year's Tour de France I didn't feel proud to be a professional cyclist," he told the Daily Mirror. "And I feel the same now. Doping problems affect everyone in the peloton," noted the 26 year-old. "I've got children, a wife and a house and I could lose my livelihood because someone who tests positive finishes ahead of me. It's about time someone had some balls and told it how it was. There are enough of us who think the way I do."

"They say it's only one or two but I'm sure more people are doing these things. So it's my role as a role-model to expose it and not pretend it isn't happening," he continued. "I don't think it's right I should come up in front of everyone and put up a smokescreen and say everybody is OK and there are only one or two people doing this. My big motivation this year is to prove that you can win clean."

He was particularly upset at Tour de France winner Floyd Landis, who tested positive for testosterone. "I was really angry with Landis. It sickens me. He tested positive and then he was denying it. He took us riders for fools."

Wiggins finished 124th in the 2006 Tour while helping teammates Ivan Parra, Cristian Moreni and Sylvain Chavanel. Amongst his palmarès are three medals for Great Britain at the 2004 Olympic Games.

Guidi crashes in training

Italian Fabrizio Guidi crashed during a training camp in Castagneto Carducci (Tuscany). The 34 year-old sprinter came off with lots of scrapes to his body, according to After the incident the sprinter, signed by Barloworld this last winter, was visited by medics who determined that he had suffered a light head trauma as a result of the impact.

Guidi will remain at the Barloworld training camp in Castagneto Carducci but take a few days off the bike. It is expected that he will rejoin his mates prior to the end of the camp, February 10, and make go ahead with his plans for a season debut in the GP Etruschi.

Jaksche lashes out

By Susan Westemeyer

Jaksche in 2006
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Jörg Jaksche is a bitter man, after suffering the aftereffects of being named in the Operación Puerto affair. "All of the suspects were guilty and had to be suspended, it was said. And what happened? Not one single rider has been suspended, but 30 pro cyclists lost their jobs.

"Nobody is taking responsibility for this," he said in an interview with the Austrian Radwelt magazine. "We're looking at the ruins of our sport, although not sanctions have been imposed. The image of cycling is equally destroyed as the existence of many riders."

In an effort to prove his innocence, Jaksche has offered to submit a DNA sample. "A few weeks ago I sent a letter to the UCI, in which I told President [Pat] McQuaid that I was prepared to give a DNA sample at any time and under any conditions. Until today, I have not received any answer."

Jaksche blasted the DNA test as useless, however. "Everyone thinks that a DNA test can prove that a cheater is guilty of doping. No way and never," he said. "A DNA test is not a doping control and will never be recognized as such."

"If I had given up three bags of blood by Dr. Fuentes," he continued, "And if they could be identified as mine by a DNA test, that wouldn't be enough for a doping ban. It would only show that I had given the blood. Giving blood alone is not a doping violation."

After the Austrian Professional Continental Team Volksbank confirmed that it was negotiating with Jaksche, Deutschland Tour director Kai Rapp indicated that he would withdraw the team's invitation to his race. This was enough to scare Volksbank off, although Rapp later moderated his view.

"A small team was blackmailed by the Deutschland Tour," is how Jaksche saw it. "It was basically, either you don't take Jaksche or you don't ride the tour." He added, "I was never positive, never in prison, there are no proceedings against me and my license wasn't taken away. But nevertheless, Volksbank was forced to turn away from signing me."

Jaksche also blasted fellow German rider Jens Voigt. "Jens Voigt is to me the biggest hypocrite. He rode together on a team with Ivan Basso and earned hundreds of thousands of euros through him. And when Basso is down, he kicks him. But he's happy enough to keep the money."

He is still optimistic about riding again, if not in this season. "Right now it doesn't look bad, even if I wouldn't want to bet everything on it. I'm talking to a couple of teams, and I'll keep up with them. If it doesn't work out, then I'll take the year off and keep on training, so that I can come back at my full strength in 2008."

Fabian Wegmann - world traveller

By Susan Westemeyer

Gerolsteiner's Fabian Wegmann can't complain of boredom or lack of opportunities to see the world. After the team presentation in Gerolstein, Germany, the team flew to Mallorca, Spain, for training camp, where they enjoyed good weather most of the time.

"Fortunately this time of year there is nothing much happening on Mallorca, making it easier to concentrate on training," he wrote on his website, "Some of the hotels are boarded up and lots of restaurants, bars and shops are closed."

He was especially happy at the construction of a new highway on the island. Because of it, "the traffic on the other roads has lessened, so that cycling there is more fun and of course, there is less risk of being involved in an auto accident."

He left the Spanish sun to come home to German snow. "Winter 'finally' arrived at home," he noted, "I used the opportunity to get in a couple of kilometres on the cross-country skis, to have a little variety from all the cycling training of the last few months."

Wegmann will continue his journeys by heading across the Atlantic to the Tour of California, hoping that the song It never rains in Southern California will hold true. He warns that fans "shouldn't expect great things from me, but like last year, I will try to do something on one or two stages."

After California he will be off to Italy for Tirreno-Adriatico.

Meares reclaims Australian 500m crown

Anna Meares has took gold in the 500m time trial, reclaiming her crown and notching up her 14th elite Australian Title on the opening day of competition at the Australian Track Cycling Championships in Sydney (February 5 to 11, 2007). The last time the 23 year-old raced the 500m time trial at Sydney's Dunc Gray Velodrome was at last year's World Cup in November where she lowered the world mark she set to win gold at the Athens Olympic Game.

Tonight, Meares, who missed the event last year due to injury, was the last to start and was on form from the first pedal stroke stopping the clock at 34.542 seconds. Her time was one second faster than defending champion, Kristine Bayley, 23, who rode 35.548 with Sydney's Kaarle McCulloch, 19, claiming bronze in a time of 35.650 in her first year in the senior ranks.

"I really wanted to get the title back because the 500 is my pet event and my favourite so it was hard for me to sit it out last year," said Meares. "So it was extra special to win it back and be able to say the only ones I've lost are the ones I didn't compete in."

Meares has also noted she wants to take home gold in every event she contests. "I want to add [wins] all of them," she said of her plans to dominate the sprint, teams sprint and keirin events in coming days. "I want to go home with a clean sweep and I know it's going to be really tough but I'm going to give it a good try.

2007 teams database

The Cyclingnews teams database is filling out for the 2007 season. Théo Muller has been tracking the rider and team's movements for many years and is putting the finishing touches on the 2007 listings.

Listed in the teams' database are 20 ProTour teams, 27 Professional Continental teams, 133 Continental teams and 42 women's teams. It is expected that the final Continental teams will be listed in the coming weeks to make a total of 135.

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