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Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News for February 9, 2007

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Arbitrators named for Landis hearing

The names of the arbitrators in the Floyd Landis hearing before the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) have been released. They are Christopher Campbell, selected by Landis; Richard McLaren, selected by USADA; and Patrice Brunet, whom the other two arbitrators chose as the panel's chairman, the Los Angeles Times has reported. The hearing is scheduled to open May 14.

Campbell is a San Francisco attorney and former Olympic wrestler, who previously had been selected by Tyler Hamilton in the hearing of his case for blood doping. That hearing ended with a two-to-one ruling that Hamilton should be banned for two years, with Campbell dissenting.

McLaren is an attorney from London, Ontario, Canada, who also served as the USADA's arbitrator in the Hamilton case. He has a background of arbitration work, including for the National Hockey League and the Olympic games.

The panel's chairman, Brunet is an attorney in Montreal, Canada, specializing in immigration and sports law.

Cyclingnews' coverage of the Floyd Landis case

May 29, 2009 - French authorities summon Landis and Baker
September 28, 2008 - Landis takes case to US federal court
September 10, 2008 - Landis signing with current Health Net-Maxxis team for 2009
July 1, 2008 - CAS delivers final blow to Landis legal challenge
June 30, 2008 - Landis loses final appeal
June 28, 2008 - Landis decision due Monday
March 12, 2008 - Landis' judgment day nears
October 21, 2007 - Landis files appeal with CAS
October 18, 2007 - AFLD takes another look at Landis case
Thursday, October 11 - Landis continues fight, appeals to CAS
Saturday, September 22 - UCI officially names Pereiro 2006 Tour champion, Landis case raises issues
Friday, September 21 - Landis' appeal denied, two year suspension levied

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of the Floyd Landis case

Pereiro happy with form and 2007 programme

By Shane Stokes

Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne) wearing the Yellow Jersey at the 2006 Tour de France
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Although his training at this week's Caisse d'Epargne training camp has been disrupted due to a bad cold, Oscar Pereiro has said he is satisfied with his fitness level at this time of the season. "I have done some good training," he told Cyclingnews this week. "My condition is not 100 percent, but it is better than this time last season. That winter, I worked too much in the gym. I am happy this year with my condition."

Like his teammate Alejandro Valverde, Pereiro is due to begin his season in the Trofeo Mallorca on Sunday, the first stage of the Challenge Mallorca races. "It's very early in the season for me but I'm supposed to do the first race, to be there for the TV cameras," he said. "I've been sick so I think I may just do the first two or three laps... I'll see how it goes."

After that, he will have a programme of stage races as he builds form towards July. He will next line out in the Vuelta Castilla y Leon, which runs from March 26-30, then compete in the GP Miguel Indurain (April 7), the Klasika Primavera (April 15) and the Vuelta Ciclista a Aragon, from April 18-22. The next month will see him ride the Tour de Romandie (May 1-6) and the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya (May 21-27), before his final tuneup in the Dauphiné Libéré, running from June 10-17.

"Alejandro is the leader for the Classics and the Tour. And I will be for the Tour and the Vuelta," he says. "The Tour is my big goal. But I would like to win one race before that. Not Catalunya or the Dauphiné, not the overall, but a stage. I want to see that I am strong before the Tour starts."

While Pereiro will be declared 2006 Tour de France winner if Floyd Landis is proclaimed guilty after his May 14 hearing with the USADA, he doesn't see himself in the first rank of favourites for this season. "I don't think I am one of the very top contenders. I know that I am not in the first list of favourites, but in the second list. The first list is made up of riders such as Ivan Basso and Vinokourov, but I'm in the group that could win the Tour under certain circumstances.

"I think there are some big contenders to win the Tour, and then the hopefuls. I am in this group of outsiders. Why? Because Pereiro was not only second in the Tour of 2006... I was 10th in 2005, I was 10th in 2004. Last year, 2006, five riders were missing - Armstrong, Ullrich, Basso, Vinokourov and Mancebo were not in the race. Normally I would be behind them, but those riders were missing."

Alejandro Valverde has also played down his chances somewhat, telling Cyclingnews that he would be satisfied with a place in the top five this year before going all out to win in 2008. He will turn 27 shortly before the Tour and knows that his youth and lack of Tour experience may go against him somewhat. He has yet to reach Paris after pulling out of the 2005 and 2006 editions of the Tour due to injury.

However, one thing that works in their favours is the fact that they are both Caisse d'Epargne riders. "It is good, there is less pressure on each of us because we are both riding in the same team," Pereiro stated. "Also, my team doesn't put pressure on me to win the Tour. They want me to do my job, to ride well, to be a good co-leader to Alejandro Valverde. I don't feel more pressure from them than last year. Perhaps it is higher from the press, the public and from myself, too, but it is not much more than before."

A full interview with Oscar Pereiro will appear soon on Cyclingnews. This will include his comments on the recent Le Monde allegations, on his attitude towards Floyd Landis' positive test from last year's Tour and why he is particularly motivated to ride well this September.

Charteau predicts tough battle in Langkawi

By Greg Johnson in Genting Highlands, Malaysia

Frenchman Anthony Charteau - will he take the leader's jersey to Kuala Lumpur?
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

Le Tour de Langkawi yellow jersey holder Anthony Charteau expects a tough battle to ensue in the remaining two stages, after the Crédit Agricole rider had his lead shaved back to 62 seconds on today's Genting Highlands. Charteau entered the stage with a handy 3.36 gap to Japan's Shinichi Fukushima but had the margin slashed by stage 8 victor Jose Serpa, who finished today's stage exactly 3.36 ahead of 10th placed Charteau.

"It was really, really painful for me today, but it will remain a good day in my memory," said Charteau. "It's going to be another hard day tomorrow and it's going to require more teamwork but I'm confident that my team can do it again."

Charteau will have to fend off attacks by not one but two Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Selle Italia riders, with Serpa's teammate Walter Pedraza holding third place 1.34 behind the French leader.

"We hoped the leader might back down but he defended very well and so I think it's right that he is the [leader]," noted Selle Italia team manager Gianni Savio. "But, the Tour de Langkawi is not finished. So tomorrow there is another stage, and we will attack also tomorrow."

While significantly further back, Crédit Agricole will also need to keep a keen eye on South Africa's David George. The two-time victor and reigning champion of the Tour de Langkawi currently holds fourth place, a manageable 3.39 behind Charteau.

Meanwhile, Charteau, who was delighted to learn he still held the GC lead, has said he's on the verge of accomplishing a lifelong dream.

"If I win the Tour de Langkawi on Sunday it's going to be my first stage race [win], and winning a stage race is something I've dreamed about for a long time," he said.

Crawford determined to hold place

By Greg Johnson in Genting Highlands, Malaysia

Australia's Jai Crawford is determined to maintain his top five position in the Tour de Langkawi, after the Tasmanian catapulted from 22nd to fifth with a red-hot sprint on today's grueling Genting Highlands climb. The Tour of Siam winner will face stiff competition in the remaining two stages, with Crédit Agricole and Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Selle Italia expected to push the pace high as they battle for the general classification win.

"I think I can maintain fifth, I should get over the climbs the next couple of days," said Crawford. "It's a long stage tomorrow, but I'm riding for fifth place so I'll give it everything I've got!"

While Crawford is hopeful of holding out his better known rivals, the Tasmanian acknowledged the task ahead will not be easy. "I think tomorrow is going to be tough, because the Crédit Agricole guys only have the yellow jersey by 60 seconds," he admitted. "My team is going to be tired as well from a long week and yeah, it should be tough."

Today's stunning climb up the notorious Genting Highlands stage marked a significant milestone in Crawford's comeback, after glandular fever prevented the former U23 MTB national representative from competing in Europe last season.

"It went really well, both personally and also for the team," said Crawford. "We got Ghader Mizbani up there, who has taken the Asian riders jersey back and I think we've got a decent gap now. It's fantastic you know. It's very, very satisfying. It makes all the hard work that I've done over the past few years all worth while."

Crawford's ride wasn't the only show of strength from the Giant Asia Racing Team, with the outfit reclaiming the Asian rider's jersey from Shinichi Fukushima and knocking the Japanese rider's Nippo-Meitan Hompo team off the top spot in the Asian team's classification. GART also sits in a strong position on the outright team's classification, just one second behind yellow jersey holding Crédit Agricole.

More teams for Mallorca

Milram counts on Zabel

Erik Zabel will be leading Team Milram in the Mallorca Challenge starting next week (February 11-15), the team has announced. "There is something for both the sprinters and the all-rounders in the Mallorca Challenge," the team noted.

All in all, Milram sends 12 riders to the Mallorca Challenge: Erik Zabel, Enrico Poitschke, Matej Jurco, Niki Terpstra, Björn Schröder, Marcel Sieberg, Sebastian Siedler, Sebastian Schwager, Martin Müller, Dennis Haueisen, Ralf Grabsch and Christian Knees.

Caisse d'Epargne - without Pereiro?

Spanish ProTour team Caisse d'Epargne will start its season in the race series on the Mediterranean island. Sports director José Luis Jaimerena chose the following 19 cyclists to participate: Florent Brard, Imanol Erviti, Marco Fertonani, Vicente García Acosta, Iván Gutiérrez, Joan Horrach, Pablo Lastras, David López, Alexeï Markov, Oscar Pereiro, Aitor Pérez, Fran Pérez, Mathieu Perget, Sébastien Portal, Vicente Reynes, Joaquín Rodríguez, José Joaquín Rojas, Luis León Sánchez and, of course, Alejandro Valverde.

The only problem for now is the participation of the 2006 Tour de France second-placed rider, Oscar Pereiro. Due to a flu, he might not be able to start, as the team informed (see above).

Llaneras leads Spanish national team

By Antonio J. Salmerón

According to news daily Última Hora de Mallorca, the Spanish track rider Joan Llaneras will participate in all the stages of the Challenge de Mallorca with the national team. At the same time, he expressed his great satisfaction to be able to compete in the World Championships in Palma de Mallorca, scheduled from March 29-April 1, 2007 - an event for which he is currently building up form.

Llaneras and Gálvez won the Madison at the Bordeaux World Championships in 2006
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

"I will try to fight for the podium," Llaneras said, adding that the new velodrome of Mallorca is "a dream and an historical debt that has become reality, and one of the main references for the best pistards." However, he commented that "winning depends on many circumstances, and now the only thing that I can promise is to try and get good results."

Initially, the Spaniard planned to compete in the Madison, but the tragic death of Isaac Gálvez in the Gent Six Day left him without his habitual teammate in the mentioned specialty. "My participation in the Scratch race and in the Madison are still not clear," Llaneras said.

The six-times World Champion has already defined his calendar in 2007 to peak at the Track World Championships. "For me, the Mallorca Challenge is very important because it will be one of the cornerstones of my preparation. After racing in Mallorca, I will train in San Sebastián and in Mexico to complete my technical preparation."

Slippens and Stam reunited in Hasselt

By Laura Weislo and Hedwig Kröner

Robert Slippens & Danny Stam (Netherlands)

Photo ©: Mark Gunter

Click for larger image

After months spent rehabilitating injuries from a crash last August, Dutchman Robert Slippens made his comeback on the track at the Hasselt Six Day this Thursday. Slippens crashed last summer while riding a kermesse in Flanders, and endured ten broken ribs, a broken leg and a punctured lung, but was finally ready to return to competition for the last Six Day of the season. "It feels like I'm going to ride my first Six Day", Slippens told ANP. "I feel in good shape. But there is that uncertainty: have I trained enough? Am I ready?"

Slippens made an appearance at the Amsterdam Six Day last fall, but watching his longtime partner, Danny Stam, win that event was a mental blow. "I had difficulty with that week. I saw Danny winning and thought: this is not right. Only in the weeks afterwards I started to realise that it would be a lost winter for me." Slippens was determined to make a comeback in Rotterdam, but recovery from such severe injuries never goes as expected. "I said then that I would race in Rotterdam [in the beginning of January - ed.]. It must have been the influence of the opiates", he laughed.

But the crash wasn't the only thing that turned his life upside down last summer. A few days after his fall, he became the father of a baby daughter - his wife Marina gave birth in the same hospital where he was treated for his injuries. "That was the most emotional week-end of my life," he said.

Slippens rounded out his training with the Dutch national track team in California in January, but he still didn't expect too much from himself in Hasselt. "I will race, but not for the victory," he predicted. "I want to improve my form there, but I certainly will lack the edge that only competition can bring." The only hope Slippens and his long-time partner Stam have left this season is a rainbow jersey at the Track World's in Mallorca on April 1. "If everything goes as planned, I will race the World's, but I do look at Hasselt as a test," he added. "If it doesn't work out there, then the season will be completely over for me."

Symmetrics off to Cuba

The Canadian team Symmetrics is set to begin its 2007 season at the Vuelta Ciclista a Cuba. Racing begins this Tuesday, February 13 and will last a full 13 days, ending on February 25.

The race features 14 stages of tough racing, including a 30-km individual time trial which should suit Svein Tuft. Tuft, who will wear his Red skin suit of National Champion in the event, has been honing his time trialling skills lately on the track. "I've increased my Revolutions per minute, my leg speed, with all the riding at the velodrome, so I'm pretty stoked to try it out on the road," he said.

Joining Tuft in Cuba will be Marsh Cooper, Christian Meier, Andrew Pinfold and Andrew Randell. New Symmetrics rider Geoff Kabush will be also be lending a hand to the squad, making his first appearance with his new teammates.

Most of the team has been training in either British Columbia or California, and although it is the rainy season in Cuba, weather could be a factor. "If it gets warm, we could have a pretty hot war on the roads with some of the locals who are more acclimatized," Symmetrics veteran Andrew Pinfold said. "As far as who is our best rider right now, I think some of the guys who have been training hard on the track might pull off some good rides, but whoever gets up there in the GC, we will all ride in solidarity."

The total mileage of the race is 1865km, making it the longest race for all of the Symmetrics riders. The community of racers who have flown in from various parts of the world will assemble Sunday in Havana, with the actual race beginning and ending at the Plaza de la Revolution in Baracoa.

Yellow March for Pereiro

By Monika Prell

According to Spanish newspaper Atlántico Diario, a cycling tour in favour of Oscar Pereiro, second of the Tour de France 2006, will be held in Vigo (Galicia) on Sunday, February 18. The ride organised primarily by the newspaper will be called "Yellow March" because of the colour of the jersey the participants will receive. The organisers will protest against what they view as a delay in the recognition of Pereiro as Tour de France winner.

There will be two itineraries: one of 40 kms and one of 9 kms through the town of Vigo, the native town of the Caisse d'Epargne rider, who will also attend the event. Amongst others, the ride is supported by the Xunta de Galicia, the Diputación de Pontevedra and the Concello de Vigo, important local political institutions.

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