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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for February 7, 2007

Edited by Sue George

No question about at Marseillaise
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Although their participation in the GP d'Ouverture La Marseillaise was in question until just before the race, new ProTour team answered any lingering questions about how they will stack up this year against fellow ProTour teams.

Just before the race, organizers granted permission for Unibet to take the start, but only under the condition that the ProTour team not display the name of their lead sponsor. French law prohibits advertising of foreign lottery and betting institutions. Unibet accepted the decision in order to compete and raced in neutral jerseys with large question marks replacing their sponsor's name. won this traditional European race season opener for the second year in a row when Jeremy Hunt ( won the final sprint. Last year, Baden Cooke took the win for the team.

The European season continues today with the Etoile de Bessèges stage race.

To see a report and results, click here.

Langkawi to ProTour?

The peloton at Langkawi
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

UCI President Pat McQuaid yesterday said he was satisfied with the organization of the Tour of Langkawi under the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) this year. He left the door of possibility open for the team to join the often discussed ProTour expansion beyond Europe. According to the New Strait Times, the MNCF would be involved in the decision.

"The race had a couple of troubled years, but it is a very good race and an important race to the UCI. It is a wonderful gesture in which the Government recognised this fact that this race is beneficial to their objectives," said McQuaid to the New Strait Times.

Thus far, the ProTour has been characterized by ongoing fighting between the UCI and the organizers of major European races like the three Grand Tours. Should the ProTour move to encompass races outside of Europe, it might also include Australia's Tour Down Under (TDU) Both the Tour of Langkawi and the TDU are now ranked as hors categorie races on their respective UCI calendars.

ProTour status would require organizers to include all 20 ProTour teams. Wildcard entries would be open to non-ProTour teams.

No Ullrich DNA comparison soon

There's no telling when German investigators will be able to make a DNA comparison between a sample from Jan Ullrich and the blood bags taken into custody during Operación Puerto, but it probably won't be any time soon. "Heaven only knows when that will happen," Jörg Spindler of the Bonn, Germany, prosecutor's office told the press agency dpa.

"We don't know the reason for the delay," he told the sid. Ullrich gave the investigators his DNA sample last week. "But without the material from Madrid that doesn't help us much, because we can't make a DNA comparison."

The German and Spanish investigators have already reached an agreement that a German official will pick up the bags of blood in Madrid and bring them to Germany.

"If there should not be any agreement and the blood turns out not to be from Ullrich, then there is practically no probability of a complaint being filed," Spindler said.

However the investigators are also looking at materials taken in searches of the homes of Ullrich's manager, Wolfgang Strohband, in Hamburg, and his mentor Rudy Pevenage in Geraardsbergen, Belgium. Ullrich's attorneys have asked a Swiss court to prohibit Swiss authorities from turning over to the Germans various documents which they took into custody during a search of Ullrich's house in September.

New look Irish continental team launched in Dublin

By Shane Stokes

At the beginning of last season, Ireland's first Continental team was making news due to its close association with Sean Kelly, the former world number one lending both his name and his expertise to the Belgium-based setup.

Kelly gets in centre-shot
Photo ©: Kenn Farrar
(Click for larger image)
This time round, both Kelly and Stephen Roche were present at the team launch on Tuesday in Milltown and Dublin. The 2007 team has a new look, with bright red jerseys making the squad easily identifiable, and also a new name and different composition than before. Now entitled the Murphy and Gunn/Newlyn/M. Donnelly Sean Kelly team, it comprises 13 international riders and fuses the two Irish-registered Continental teams from last season, namely Sean Kelly ACLVB M. Donnelly and Murphy & Gunn/Newlyn Group.

In 2006, having two UCI-registered squads when the country previously had none was a big boost for Irish cycling but, given that several of the nation's top riders have contracts with other teams, there probably wasn't the strength in depth to justify two totally separate entities. Hence the amalgamation over the winter, and the unveiling of what should prove to be a collectively stronger squad.

Thirteen riders are currently part of the line-up, with the possibility of more being added later in the season. The eight Irishmen are national under 23 champion Paídi O'Brien, former national champion Morgan Fox, Paul Healion, John Dempsey, Simon Kelly, Tim Cassidy, Mark Cassidy and Stephen Gallagher. The team is completed by Belgians Christophe Beddegenoodts, Tim Meussen, Rieno Stofferis and Devi Vervaecke, plus the Dane Glenn Bak.

They will be based mainly at the Sean Kelly Cycling Academy in Merchtem, Belgium, with two amateur development/feeder teams attached. Team Murphy & Gunn / Newlyn will race mainly in Ireland while the Sean Kelly Cycling Academy Team will enable riders of varied ages to compete in Belgium.

The Continental team got their season off to a good start in the Tour o f Qatar last week. Healion and Bak both gained valuable television time by going clear in long-distance breakaways, while Stofferis finished eighth on the final stage. The team was also sixth in that stage classification, showing that they were finishing strong.

Given a lack of racing at this level in the past, it was a respectable showing against the ProTour teams in the race and the goal now is to continue building strength and experience as the season progresses.

To read the complete feature, click here.

Milram takes 10 to Etruschi

Team Milram has changed its line-up for the GP Costa degli Etruschi this coming Saturday, February 10, and will now take ten riders instead of the formerly-announced seven. No reason was given for the change.

Alessandro Petacchi still leads the team. Marcel Sieberg and Christian Knees have been removed from the squad and are being replaced by Volodymyr Dyudya, Elia Rigotto, Fabio Sabatini, Brett Lancaster, and Carlo Scognamiglio.

Milram for the GP Costa degli Etruschi: Alessandro Petacchi, Fabio Sacchi, Marco Velo, Alberto Ongarato, Alessandro Cortinovis, Volodymyr Dyudya, Elia Rigotto, Fabio Sabatini, Brett Lancaster, Carlo Scognamiglio.

Crash stops Hammond from sprinting

Roger Hammond
Photo ©: PhotoSport International
(Click for larger image)

T-Mobile's Roger Hammond was supposed to help his young teammate, sprinter Mark Cavendish, in a sprint finish at the GP d'Ouverture La Marseillaise, but it didn't work out that way. Only 10 km into the race, Hammond joined an escaped group of 14 riders which managed to stay away to the end.

Hammond himself was unable to sprint for the win, because he crashed on a small climb shortly before the finish. He was able to finish ninth.

"Roger is in good form and proved his credentials as a leading figure in the team," Directeur Sportif Alan Peiper said on the team's website, "Of course he's annoyed about today's bad luck, but he'll put that behind him over the next days at the Star of Bessège where he'll show his young compatriot Mark Cavendish the way to the front of the peloton."

UCI delegation visits Stuttgart road world championship venue

A UCI delegation, including Road Department Manager, Philippe Chevallier and technical delegate Charly Mottet visited Stuttgart, Germany, where the 2007 UCI road world championships will be held from September 25-30, 2007.

The UCI described event preparations as "excellent" after inspecting the time trial and road circuits. The delegation said it "was fully satisfied and confident that this event would be a success."

Stuttgart last hosted the worlds it in 1991.

American team confirms for Women's New Zealand Tour

Catherine Cheatley
Photo ©: Amy McCann
(Click for larger image)

American UCI women's professional team Cheerwine has confirmed that it will compete in this year's Women's Cycling Tour of New Zealand in March according to NewstalkZB.

The team includes members from the US, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.

New Zealander Catherine Cheatley signed a contract to ride with Cheerwine recently. The 2006 national road champion will start her 2007 season with her new international team on home turf in Wellington. Cheatley won the first Women's Tour in 2005.

Kelly Benefit Strategies/LSV announces 2007 amateur roster

Building on its breakthrough 2006 season and its association with the newly formed Professional Continental Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast pro cycling team, the Kelly Benefit Strategies/LSV elite amateur cycling team has announced its roster for the 2007 season.

The team, sponsored by a group insurance broker and consultant, retained its strong core of experienced riders who logged many local and regional like the national elite road championship and the Green Mountain Stage Race. The team feeds riders into the pro ranks like elite amateur road race champion, Matt Cooke, who moved to Navigators Insurance Professional Cycling Team and Nick Waite, who made the jump to the pro team.

The amateur team recruited a group of young riders to build for the future and recently hired Beth Leasure as Sports Director.

John Kelly, the title sponsor for the team, stated that "our mission is to build the Kelly Benefit Strategies/LSV Amateur Cycling team into a national caliber amateur program for aspiring and committed young elite-level cyclists interested in racing and training in the mid-Atlantic region. The team will benefit from its close association with the Kelly Benefit Strategies professional team, and will help develop and identify riders capable of racing professionally."

For a complete roster of the amateur squad, click here. The roster for the Professional Contintental team can be found on Cyclingnews' team database here.

Hub Racing announces women's challenge

Hub Racing announced the Fifth Annual City Bikes RFK Criterium at the historic RFK stadium in Washington, DC, on June 17. The race will feature the US$5,000 Hub Racing Women's Challenge.

In 2006, Laura Van Gilder (racing with Cheerwine for 2007) took the US$1,000 top prize. The race is expected to draw top women again this year. Hub Racing team's own locals Becky Broeder, Nicole Raspa, Sheba Farrin, Dale Tye, and Jenette Williams will give them a run for their money.

The event includes eight bicycle races in total: all senior categories plus masters categories for men and women. There will also be a fun ride and a kids rodeo to teach young riders about cycling safety in a controlled environment.

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