Latest Cycling News for February 14, 2007
Edited by Gregor Brown
2007 Paris-Nice revealed
By Hedwig Kröner
French Grand Tour organiser ASO has presented the parcours of the 'race to the sun', Paris-Nice, on Tuesday. The 65th edition of the stage race, starting with a prologue in Issy-les-Moulineaux on the outskirts of Paris and finishing traditionally on the 'Promenade des Anglais' waterfront in Nice, is scheduled to take place from March 11 to 18, 2007.
This year, the race will take a new turn as the peloton will pass France's central mountain range, using the Central Massif on its western side instead of heading straight towards the Côte d'Azur on the eastern side as it had been of use previously. The first three stages have been characterised typical sprinters' stages, whereas the second part of the week will offer opportunities for breakaways and climbers. The first decisive ascension before the taking on the hinterland of Nice on the last day of the race will be the climb up the airport of Mende on stage four, which has been re-named 'Montée Laurent Jalabert' since the famous French cyclist won a Tour de France stage there in 1995.
According to the organiser's announcement on January 13, 20 teams will participate in the event: all ProTour teams, except Swedish-Belgian outfit Unibet.com, as well as French Pro Continental squad Agritubel. The UCI is still opposed to the organiser choosing his own participation criteria, and has threatened to sanction the ASO. But race director Christian Prudhomme affirmed that "Paris-Nice will take place as planned, according to the applicable technical regulations and in compliance with French law [Unibet.com will thus not participate]."
The main contenders at Paris-Nice will be: Tom Boonen (Quickstep-Innergetic), Andrej Kashechkin (Astana), Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner), Alberto Contador (Discovery Channel), Fränk Schleck and David Zabriskie (Team CSC), Philippe Gilbert (Française Des Jeux), Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto), Cyril Dessel (Ag2r Prévoyance), Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank), David Millar (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) and Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis).
The 2007 parcours of Paris-Nice outlines as follows:
Prologue - Sunday, March 11: Issy-les-Moulineaux, ITT, 4.7 km
Bessèges organiser fined and sentenced
The organiser of the recent Etoile de Bessèges stage race in the south of France, Rolland Fangille, has been given a fine of €4,500 by French authorities for letting Swedish ProTour team Unibet.com take the start of the first stage wearing the official team jersey branded with the name of the sponsor. At the moment, the online gambling company is considered illegal on French territory as a legal procedure is underway against it before the European Commission.
Fangille, who also received a suspended prison sentence of two months, let the cyclists wear their official team kit on one occasion during the race, the rest of the time its riders wore a generic jersey displaying a question mark. The team's directors promised to take care of the fine.
Alejandro Valverde: "I'm working for my teammates"
By Monika Prell
In the Volta a Mallorca Alejandro Valverde is acting in an unusual role. "Many cyclists in my team are showing that in this race they are in great form and that they have a lot of possibilities to win the final general classification," he confirmed to todociclismo.com. "I'm working for them like they are working for me in other races." Luis León Sánchez is currently in fourth overall, at five seconds to overall race leader Ezequiel Mosquera (Karpin-Galicia).
He has planned to compete in one of the two remaining days before taking a rest until the Vuelta a Valenciana (February 27 to March 3). Then, continuing his preparation for the Tour de France, he will compete in the Vuelta a Murcia, Milano - Sanremo, la Vuelta al País Vasco and some spring classics.
The 26 year-old affirmed that his relation to Oscar Pereiro, possible winner of the 2006 Tour, is sensational. "It's great to share the responsibility on the big objectives and we are good friends."
Franke "can't read Spanish"
By Susan Westemeyer
German anti-doping crusader, Dr. Werner Franke, claimed to have read in the Operación Puerto documents that Jan Ullrich paid the Spanish Dr. Fuentes €35,000 for illegal doping products, but after losing a court case, he now has admitted to radsport-aktiv.de that he "can't read Spanish."
On Tuesday, a court in Hamburg, Germany, upheld an injunction against Franke prohibiting him from making such claims against Ullrich. Last summer Franke appeared on German television with the documents in his hand and claimed that this information was contained in this document.
"There are many unbelievable things in these documents, but this sentence does not appear," said the ruling judge. "When you cite a source that doesn't exist, you are out of luck!" The judge noted, however, that there are numerous mentions of Ullrich in the documents prepared by the Spanish Guardia Civil.
Franke's statement "just went a little too far," the judge said, noting that "This deals with the way it was said, not the content," according to the German press agency dpa.
Franke explained yesterday, "It couldn't have been a statement of fact. I couldn't read the report. It is in Spanish and I can't read Spanish."
German blood tests
By Susan Westemeyer
As part of its anti-doping campaign, the German Cycling Federation (BDR) wanted to establish blood profiles for all German cyclists; but so far not a single male professional rider has appeared to take the test, BDR President Rudolf Scharping has confirmed.
The riders to be tested include not only the male professionals, but also male and female juniors and U23 (road, track and mountain bike), many of whom have already appeared for testing.
"We assume that teams like T-Mobile or Gerolsteiner will totally climb into this program. It also applies to riders who are under contract to foreign teams," Scharping said to t-online.de. He added that a meeting was planned for the beginning of March with team doctors. Participation in "Operation Blood Volume" is a necessary requirement for riders who want to represent German in world championships or the Olympic Games, Scharping noted.
The BDR expects to test about 200 cyclists a year at the University Clinic in Freiburg. "There won't be any more riders like Jan Ullrich" who receive all their training plans and medical care from outside of their team," said BRD sport director Burckhard Bremer. Every rider is to undergo blood testing three to four times a year, in order to track possible changes in the blood profile, Bremer noted.
Carlos Abellán retires from cycling
By Monika Prell
Carlos Abellán has decided to retire from cycling. The 23 year-old became professional in 2006 with Liberty Seguros-Würth and signed a contract until the end of 2007. After the disappearance of the team due to the implication in the Operación Puerto, Abellán did not receive any other offer from other teams.
"My main problem was not the disappearance of the team but that they [the management] gave me the notice at the end of December, when the other teams were almost all closed and it was almost impossible to find a spot in one of them, also in a moment when cycling is going through a big crisis with many unemployed cyclists."
According to the Spanish newspaper Marca, he was frustrated of "the helplessness in the face of a problem that was not mine and that hit me like a collision, and which damaged me at the maximum."
His goal is now to find a new team for 2008. "The strong relationship that I have with this sport hurts me to give it up so early without struggling one last time. I want to decide myself if I give up cycling" explained Abellán. He is convinced that "in the professional world effort and joy are less important things when money and other interests are in the picture. "I heard the 'everything has got a price' a time ago but I didn't understand the meaning. Now, unfortunately I do."
Finding a team for 2008 is "possible, but not easy and nobody can assure it. I have to believe in this and to spend this year, however it will be, only trying to come back. I will ride in a lower category and try other means for staying fit."
Team Slipstream to test riders 50 times a year
By Susan Westemeyer
Team Slipstream is determined to ride the Tour de France in 2008, and to do as a clean team. To this end, the US Professional Continental Team has introduced a rigorous new anti-doping program under which its riders will have their blood and urine tested 50 times a year.
"It's an absolute pain for us to do, but I'll do anything to keep from being lumped wih the guys accused of cheating," said the team's top rider, Danny Pate, in the New York Times.
The team is owned by private investor Doug Ellis, who is looking for a primary sponsor to carry the team to the Tour de France. The testing program is "an insurance policy" for potential sponsors, he noted. "I'm really committed to reaching our end point, and that's having a clean team compete in the Tour de France."
The team's director is former pro Jonathan Vaughters, who rode for the US Postal team. "I don't have a halo over my head; I made some mistakes when I was a rider," said Vaughters, who didn't give any specifics. "I don't want to have any of the riders under my direction to have to face the decisions I did."
Rodriguez looks to start the season right in Cali
By Jonathan Devich
Tuesday, Fred Rodriguez (Predictor-Lotto) paid a visit to fitting master Pairic McGlynn and physio specialist Nate Koch to get rid of some nagging problems and dial in his new bike. "Fred has hamstring issues on one side of his body that have been giving him troubles for some time", said McGlynn of Bicycle Ranch fit studio, "so the idea was to get him in to see if it were bike or body changes that needed to be made."
After spending some time on the trainer and a full evaluation was given, Freddie received 2mm of lift in the left shoe as well as a minor seat adjustment for a starting point. Nate Koch, of Endurance Rehab, then spent time adjusting Rodriguez back and hips to alleviate stress and tension and help get things firing properly. At the end of the day Freddie felt much more comfortable and ready to head to next week's Tour of California.
"I feel confident for next week. This winter we re-evaluated things and I felt like I had put on too much muscle mass that just slowed me down," replied Rodriguez. "Over the last couple years I'd thought that more muscle would be good for the sprinting but found that I just ended up too fatigued by the end of the race carrying that much extra bulk."
In order to get ready for this season Fast Freddie has skipped the gym workouts and dropped his weight from 158 to about 150 lbs. Freddie said, "It doesn't sound like that much but with me it really makes a difference. I could really feel trying to get that extra weight over the climbs; so this winter I just stayed on the bike and skipped the weight workouts altogether. Coming up at California I'll work on building up my speed in preparation for April."
Rodriguez explained how California fits into his early season. "For me it works out really well. I'll go there for the intensity and I know I can go there and suffer the way I need to at this time of the year. All the smaller hills are really hard. I've already been to ride the first two stages and I think those will be good for me. I got a second and a third at the Tour last year but I'll go better this year."
Bolstering Rodriguez's chances of besting the second and third place he got last year will be the well rounded squad that Predictor-Lotto is bringing stateside.
"[Chris] Horner will be our GC guy and he's going well right now. And then we have Josep [Jufré], he's a really good Spanish climber. Also Nick Gates, the Aussie, will be there and he's a great support rider. Everybody is ready to go!" he explained.
Follow Fast Freddie and his teammates' progress at this year's Tour of California with live coverage beginning this Sunday, the 18th.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us
Armstrong to tackle NY marathon again
Lance Armstrong has announced his intention to once again take on the New York Marathon. "I'm gonng do it again," he told the AP Tuesday. "Hawaii would be too hot. I couldn't run a marathon there," he added, noting that being in New York allows him to combine it with fundraising activities for The Lance Armstrong Foudnation.
Armstrong finished the 2006 marathon in just under 3 hours, finishing 856th, caling it "without a doubt the hardest physical thing I have ever done."
Swiss cross rider has cancer
Swiss Cross rider Yves Corminboeuf, 21, is suffering from leukaemia, reported Sportinformation Zürich. He is currently in the intensive care unit of the University Hospital in Lausanne. Corminbeous is three-time Swiss champion in the Espoir category.
Kersten brothers to support up and coming cyclists
By Ben Abrahams
Aussie track cyclist Ben Kersten and elder brother Joshua, himself a Commonwealth Games medallist in 1998, are lending their support to a program at the Illawarra Academy of Sport (IAS) based in Wollongong, New South Wales, which aims to produce the next generation of riders fit for international competition. The program will provide equipment, accommodation and financial support to aid youngsters in traveling to races within Australia.
"I know what talented riders need to be the best," said Ben Kersten. "The support provided by these new sponsors will give IAS riders the best chance yet to succeed.
"I've designed all my own clothing with my sponsors and their clothing is identical except for a few changes. They're supposed to look like me and we're trying to ride the same equipment then we're all tied in together."
The Academy is predominantly aimed at under 17 riders but the support may extend further if more funding can be secured. "We don't want to get rid of someone just because they're under 19 and they might not be ready to go to the next level yet," said Kersten. "Hopefully with some more funding we can support them further to the next step."
After bagging two gold medals in the kilo and omnium at last week's Australian Track Championships, Kersten will head to Japan in May for a three-month assault on the Japanese keirin scene. "It will be good [preparation for next season] because it's in our off season but it's also more of a positive step for my future," he said.
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