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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for February 6, 2007

Edited by Sue George and Ben Abrahams

McQuaid: Langkawi creditors will be paid

By Greg Johnson in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia

UCI president Pat McQuaid
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

UCI president Pat McQuaid is confident any outstanding issues with creditors of the former Le Tour De Langkawi management company, First Cartel, will soon be settled, after spending three days at the reformed event to discuss the situation. McQuaid, who held meetings with the affected parties, including the Malaysian National Cycling Federation, emphasized that once the few outstanding debts had been rectified he hoped local media would get behind Malaysia's largest cycling event.

"Absolutely, [we want to] settle all these problems once and for all and get on with it," said McQuaid yesterday, before returning to Europe overnight. "A lot of the problems from the last two years have been dealt with since last September. There are still a couple of outstanding issues. I've had discussions with the relevant people in relation to the outstanding issues and they will be settled as well.

"For me and the UCI, once that happens we need to deal with the present and the future rather than the past," added the Irishman.

McQuaid's comments reiterate that of Malaysian National Cycling Federation's chief operating officer Naim Datuk Mohamed, who spoke to Cyclingnews earlier in the week. Mohamed admitted that the national federation would not be able to pay all outstanding monies, but that it would be held responsible for First Cartel's failure to meet its obligations and endeavor to repay as many of the creditors as possible.

"I can assure you we will take responsibility, we will not allow these contractors to not get at least a bit of their money," said Mohamed. "First Cartel has been wound up. We will be responsible, as we were the federation that sanctioned First Cartel to run the race.

"It is our weakness that we didn't really check them out, that we didn't do a study [to see] that they can meet their expenses and who is financing them. We have a responsibility and we cannot run away from this responsibility, even though the company is no longer in existence."

Mohamed's comments come just two weeks after the Malaysian High Court issued a winding up order to First Cartel. He said the profits from this year's event would be used to solve "not all, but some of the problems".

Despite the bad publicity caused by the collapse of the former management company and its outstanding debts, locals have flocked to the event in droves, with estimates that some 50,000 spectators turned out to view yesterday's Stage 4 alone.

Tirreno-Adriatico teams to be announced in six days

By Gregor Brown

Angelo Zomegnan and Franco Ballerini
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Paris-Nice may be the opening ProTour race of the year but three days later, almost running parallel, will be the Tirreno-Adriatico (March 14-20). Recently, Paris Nice organisers ASO started a stir by announcing they would not invite to their event, even though the team has obtained ProTour status.

The issue started in December, when the Grand Tour organizers released a statement that said "For the 2007 season, the 18 teams currently holding ProTour licenses will qualify automatically." This meant neither nor the newly formed Astana squad would be invited to races run by the Grand Tour organizers. For Paris-Nice, ASO invited Astana as a wild-card team.

On Monday, Angelo Zomegnan, director of the Giro d'Italia and the Tirreno-Adriatico, said that the teams would soon know if they would have an invite to the March race. "We will make it known February 12," said the Italian to Cyclingnews. RCS Sport will release the Tirreno teams the same day as the Giro teams.

He had indicated last month that there would be only 18 ProTour teams to start the Giro. For Tirreno, Zomegnan was tight-lipped as to if he would follow the same procedure but noted RCS Sport's count on the number of ProTour teams. "The teams of the ProTour are 18, not more."

In response to the teams being invited to Paris-Nice, Zomegnan said "ASO has the right to invite who they want to its races. I think they did well to invite 18."

European season kicks off with GP Marseillaise

Eighteen teams, including eight French teams, will take part in today's GP d'Ouverture La Marseillaise, the traditional kick-off to the European road season followed by the Etoile de Bessèges stage race starting on Wednesday.

According to the French Cycling Federation, among the teams will be the Swedish registered ProTour squad, currently at the center of a conflict between the UCI and ASO, organisers of Paris-Nice. However, according to race organisers, Unibet will have to wear a neutral jersey that does not reference their name and sponsor "," which is prohibited in France due to regulations on gambling advertisements.

The winner of last year's race, Australian Baden Cooke, will defend his title in the one day race between Gardanne and Luminy, but the 2006 winner, Belgian Frederik Willems, will not compete.

The two races also mark the return to competition of American Tyler Hamilton, who served his two-year suspension for blood doping after a violation in 2004. Hamilton belongs to the Italian team Tinkoff Credit Systems.

Other favorites for the race include Christophe Moreau (AG2R), Pierrick Fredigo (Bouygues), Sébastien Chavanel (Française des Jeux), Patrice Halgand (Crédit Agricole), Bradley McGee (Française des Jeux), Niko Eeckhout (Chocolats Jacques), Philippe Gilbert (Française des Jeux), and Axel Merckx (T-Mobile).

T-Mobile's Brits making their season debut

By Susan Westemeyer

Hammond and Cavendish
Photo ©: Photosport International
(Click for larger image)

T-Mobile's two Brits will be making their season debut in magenta this week. Mark Cavendish and Roger Hammond will race in the GP d'Ouverture La Marseillaise and the Etoile de Bessèges, both in France.

Cavendish, only 21 years-old, rode for T-Mobile as a stagaire at the end of the past season, and is looking forward to his season debut. "It is really exciting to get my first opportunity to race as a full T-Mobile Team rider this week," he said. "I have trained really hard over the winter and can't await to begin competition. Roger has been a fantastic mentor to me over the past few months and it is great that we both get to make our debuts in the same event. We are both obviously very keen to impress in France this week ahead of the start of the ProTour in March."

Directeur Sportif Alan Peiper, who is also making his debut with the team, said, "Mark is really fast. I was watching him during sprint training on Mallorca, and the way he sprints is very aggressive. Roger can help him adapt and take advantage of that."

Cycling will have a high profile in the UK in 2007, and T-Mobile's two British riders will want to be a part of that. In July, the Tour of France's prologue will be in London and the first stage in Kent. The Tour of Britain will be run in September.

Davis hoping for more

By Shane Stokes

Scott Davis is heading into his second season as a ProTour rider and is hoping to land some strong results over the next few months. Prior to 2006, he moved to T-Mobile from Tenax and did a lot of riding for the team, while also finishing ninth on stages of the Tour of California and the Vuelta. This time round, he feels there may be a chance for more freedom in some races this year.

"I was pretty happy with how last season went," he told Cyclingnews recently. "I tried to many times to win but there were also many times when I had to help my teammates. When they win, it is also a victory for myself. You don't see me on television there but after the race, Michael and Klodi and all the racers are happy [with how I rode].

"Obviously things must be good because I have got another two years with T-Mobile. Overall, I was happy with last season.I got good experience in new races and hopefully I can build on that in the years ahead."

The former world junior track champion is due to get his racing underway in the Challenge Mallorca series, these races running from Sunday until the following Thursdayth. "I'll start with those and then I have another ten days at home before I had up to Belgium for the races there - Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne, West-Vlaanderen and all those," he said.

A full interview with Scott Davis will follow shortly on Cyclingnews.

Mancebo and Sevilla to lead Relax GAM

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Spaniards Francisco Mancebo, Oscar Sevilla and Santi Perez will lead newly formed Professional Continental squad Relax GAM which was officially presented yesterday in Fuenlabrada, Madrid. The twenty rider team is composed almost entirely of Spanish riders with the only exceptions being Jan Hruska of the Czech Republic and Russian Denis Kudashev.

In signing Mancebo and Sevilla, both of whom were named in the Operación Puerto investigation, Relax GAM are hoping to gain a wild card spot in the 2007 Vuelta a España. "I feel ready to return to cycling," Mancebo told Spanish news agency EFE. "Relax GAM is a small squad, but I am better here than nowhere at all. The main aim is to gain participation in the Vuelta, but I also interested in the World Championships."

Despite being fired by T-Mobile after failing to prove his alleged links to Operación Puerto were false, Sevilla never felt ready to turn his back on professional cycling. "I always had the desire to compete," Sevilla said. "I have taken care of myself and must thank my friends and family. I hope to contribute my experience to Relax GAM."

The Spanish squad has already notched up its first UCI win this season, Daniel Moreno taking the final stage of the Tour de San Luis in Argentina with Mancebo placing third overall.

For the full team roster, visit the Cyclingnews teams database.

Daniele Contrini: A strong backbone

In new team colours
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Daniele Contrini may not be a household name but the Italian has a winning spirit and plays a role like a strong backbone supporting the newly formed Tinkoff Credit Systems team. Gregor Brown of Cyclingnews sat down with the rider who made headlines in last year's Tour de Suisse to learn more about his new team.

"It is the best team, for sure," quipped Daniele Contrini when I met him in Rome, just prior to the team's presentation at a swanky jazz club. We took a seat in the Hotel Victoria Roma lobby to talk about last year's LPR, and what has changed since Russian Oleg Tinkov came along to sponsor the team, now known as Tinkoff Credit System.

"Nothing against the other teams but this is a good team. I have already known Omar Piscina [Tinkoff team manager - ed.] for a while and he does a great job organizing the team. For me it was not a big change, I had already had a contract with Piscina to continue, and I was really happy to do so," noted the rider from Gardone Val Trompia (near Brescia, Lombardy). He rode under the direction of 30 year-old Piscina for the last three years and is confident in the young manager's abilities, even now with the influx of Russian money and additional star riders, like Tyler Hamilton and Salvatore Commesso.

Click here to read the complete interview.

Vandenbroucke to undergo knee surgery

Frank Vandenbroucke (Acqua & Sapone Caffè Mokambo) was diagnosed with an injury to his left knee after visiting several specialists in Belgium. He sought help after ongoing knee pain prevented him from increasing his training workload. This week, he will undergo surgery at the Clinica Poggio del Sole. After a short period of rest, rehabilitation will begin. He hopes to resume training in February without significant consequences to his season.

"Since the Giro dell'Emilia, my knee has bothered me, and consequently, I have not been able to find my condition," said Vandenbroucke. "The positive side of things is that I have found out the problem that has kept me from training as I wanted for four months. I hope to soon recover my form and conditioning."

Racing returns to downtown Tokyo

By Nobuhiro Matsukura

The first criterium in the middle of Tokyo was held on Sunday, breaking a 54-year hiatus of road racing in the Japanese capital. While there have been some races in the suburban areas of Tokyo, the last road race in the city centre dates back to 1953, when the University Student Championships were held on a 6km circuit around the Imperial Palace.

Sunday's criterium marked the 70th anniversary of the Japan Intercollegiate Cycling Federation, which was established in 1936.

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