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Latest Cycling News for February 16, 2007

Edited by Gregor Brown

Teams speak about and ProTour

By Shane Stokes in Majorca

Earlier this week RCS Sport announced that it would not be inviting to ride the Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-Sanremo or the Giro d'Italia. Despite it being a ProTour team, the Italian organisers were following ASO's and Unipublic's earlier decisions to block the Swedish-registered team. Many within cycling have interpreted these moves as direct provocation to the UCI in the ongoing disagreement over the ProTour series.

On Thursday Cyclingnews spoke to three director sportifs before the start of the final stage of the Challenge Volta a Mallorca, getting their feedback on the situation and asking what they thought should happen.

Yates gives opinion on
Photo ©: CN
Click for larger image

Sean Yates of the Discovery Channel team was not impressed. "It is a mess. What I can gather from my attendance of the meetings with the teams association [AIGCP], which includes ProTour teams and others but which is mainly attended by the ProTour teams, is they all stand by the ProTour system. In my mind, that should say that if they [the Grand Tour organisers] are going to exclude Unibet from Paris-Nice, that means everybody should stick together. Otherwise, what is the point in having a union?

"Okay it is Unibet... they got a rather a late entry into the ProTour system and they are not the biggest team out there, or the most well-known or the most well-connected, but that shouldn't have any bearing on the outcome. Unless they all decide to blow the ProTour, it should mean that the teams should say, 'we are not going to go to Paris-Nice, we are not going to Tirreno until the thing is sorted.'

"Either that, or they say that we scrap the ProTour system. This is all a mess to me. There is no point saying in the meetings that we are going to stick together, that we are not going to reduce the ProTour teams to 18, we are not going to let them boss us around [unless they do that]. It has long been a problem in cycling that the teams and the riders are just bossed around by the organisers. It is very antiquated in that respect. So they should say, 'Sod it, we are not going to come."

Yates feels that Unibet's smaller size has affected things, making them have less of a presence. "If it was Discovery or if it was Crédit Agricole, it would be different," he said. "Roger Legeay would be jumping up and down saying that we should all boycott. But because it is Unibet, maybe that has a bearing on it.

"The other organisers [RCS Sport and Unipublic] are sticking with ASO because that is the easy option for them. ASO feel that they are in a position to make up their own rules, given the amount of publicity that the Tour attracts. At the same time they can't take us for fools.

He says that greater room for a subjective selection criteria – as advocated by the Grand Tour organisers - is a bad idea. "From what I can see in the past, they like to invite the French teams, even if they do virtually nothing the whole year. They just rely on getting selected for the Tour and then they get one good result in the Tour and, obviously being a French team, everyone is happy and they get another five years of sponsorship. The way the Tour helps out their own basically rubs me up the wrong way.

"After all, I thought the idea of the Tour was to have the best teams in the world? Okay, the teams are at a slightly higher level now but in the past they have invited teams like Chazal or whoever, teams who can't even get out of their own way."

Gerolsteiner were one of three teams which RCS Sport said this week had not replied to their requests for confirmation that they would be taking part in their races. Director sportif Christian Henn said that he wasn't happy with what was happening with and the ProTour, and that the team didn't see why they should request participation in the Italian events.

"The situation is not so nice. I hope in the next days or weeks there is decision. For us there is not a problem, but in the newspapers they said that we are not in Milan-Sanremo, we are not in Tirreno. That was only because we didn't send any papers [to RCS Sport]. For us, a ProTour team, is as normal that you have to start the race, even though the organisation wants us to send a paper to say that we want to start.

"Anyway, what will happen is something that will be decided in the next few weeks. The UCI have to find a way so that everybody is happy because they know the situation is not good for cycling. There are problems already with the doping, and now with this at the races, it is not good. It is a difficult situation, really difficult."

Caisse d'Epargne director José Luis Jaimerena Lurnagaray
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

José Luis Jaimerena Lurnagaray of Caisse d'Epargne echoed this sentiment. "I think things are very complicated. We will see what happens in Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico, because that race is now involved as well. I don't know... it is very complicated. We might have to wait a bit longer to see what happens. But it is bad.

When asked if the other teams would show solidarity with and not start Paris-Nice, he said he was unsure. "That would be expected, but I don't know what will happen. We don't have much information. This is the first opportunity to see the position of everyone concerned. What you might expect is that everyone [the teams] will decide a common cause but we will see. If that isn't the case, what will happen? Will the ProTour be broken? We will see."

As is the case with Gerolsteiner, Caisse d'Epargne are also one of the three teams who RCS Sport said have not replied officially requesting a place in their races. Like Henn, Lurnagaray feels that the fact they have a ProTour licence should mean that they should not have to ask for an invitation.

"We want to do the Giro and those races, of course. If the ProTour exists, it is not necessary to have something... you have rights and obligations. Last year it was not necessary to show papers... why did it change this year? Because the Grand Tours feel that they are stronger than before.

"If we have a ProTour [series], it is not necessary to confirm these things – we have a ProTour. Anyway, I don't know what will happen. Perhaps by the start of Paris-Nice or Tirreno, we will have a better idea [what way things are going]."

2007 Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Selle Italia hopes for Giro

Alberto Loddo starts 2007 right
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

Alberto Loddo, fresh from five victories at the Tour de Langkawi, was presented along with the Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Selle Italia team of Gianni Savio yesterday in Vicenza. The Italian sprinter is the big hope for the Venezuela registered team, numbering 17 riders for 2007, who will know in the next 24 hours if it will race in the Giro d'Italia.

Savio has long played a good hand in the Giro d'Italia, but his team is up against seven other wild cards for the nod from RCS Sport. Surely, past successes, like the third overall of José Rujano in 2005, and the 10 victories already achieved in 2007 will help.

28 year-old Loddo would love to see an invitation in the Corsa Rosa; the race makes a rare appearance in Sardegna, and the third stages finishes in his home area of Cagliari. But he is not Savio's only ace for 2007, there are riders like Wladimir Belli, seventh in the 2004 Giro, Sergio Barbero, winner of the 2003 Japan Cup, Santo Anzà, winner of 2006 Giro di Romagna, Alessandro Bertolini and Colombian José Serpa.

Savio also expects to see great things from neo-pro, Colombian Fabio Andres Duarte Arevalo.

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

Rabobank happy with two Mallorca wins

By Susan Westemeyer

Freire after stage 1 win
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

Rabobank was more than happy with its performance in the Volta a Mallorca, winning two of the five stages. "Of course it's a good feeling," said Director Sportif Adri Van Houwelingen.

"With two wins in our hand, we can look to the coming races differently. But especially the way the team rode here was promising."

Former World Champion Oscar Freire won the opening race and youngster Thomas Dekker won the third of the five-race series. Van Houwelingen was pleased not only with those two victories, but also with the strong teamwork, the good showing by the team's young riders and the good integration of newcomers Koos Moerenhout and Max Van Heeswijk.

Euskaltel reactions on Etxebarria victory

By Monika Prell

Etxebarria wins
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

The whole team of Euskaltel-Euskadi is relieved by the victory of the veteran of the team, Unai Etxebarria, who won the last challenge of the Volta a Mallorca, exactly the same race he won also in 2004.

Miguel Madariaga, the General Manager of the team, is very satisfied. "We have found our way," he affirmed in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Correo. "We had one rider in every escaping group; in every attempt. That is what was asked of by our sponsors. To act. To be united. To show collectively. And those things we are actually doing."

Director Sportif Jon Odriozola gave his opinion on the Volta a Mallorca on the team's homepage,, saying, "We were present on every stage, we were very active. Ivan Mayoz escaped during two stages, Alan Pérez on another, today [the final stage - ed.] Beñat Albizuri and Antton Luengo were present, and we had Koldo Fernández ahead in the first day's sprint."

He affirmed that "tactically we have always been at the right place ..." He considered the victory as "a merited and hard worked prize." Odriozola continued that "beginning the season with a victory by one of the most emblematic riders of the team is very important."

Unai Etxebarria himself explained that "the triumph is very important. We are beginning the season and already achieved one victory, this will give us tranquillity and confidence." The fact that he won the same challenge in 2004 he considered as "anecdotal compared with the importance of this victory for the team."

Ludo Dierckxsens back on the bike

By Susan Westemeyer

Rumours that Ludo Dierckxsens was returning to the peloton at the age of 42 have proven to be only rumours, but the former Belgian champion is indeed on his bike again. He will be riding the bike leg in a team triathlon June 16 in Brugge, according to His teammates will be runner Tom Van Hooste and swimmer Tine Bossuyt.

Dierckxsens is part of a campaign to encourage companies to promote more sports activities by their employees, for example, by participating in such team triathlons. "My form is not very good, but this is a good initiative," he said. "I want to get more people on the bike."

He will have to ride 40 kilometres in the triathlon. "I ought to be able to do that. I have put on eight or nine kilos, but am now doing more sport. We want to win in Brugge."

Venezuelan Brea wins second stage in Tour of Cuba

By Joel García

Venezuelan Anthony Brea consolidated himself as the best sprinter of America in the 32nd Cuba Cycling Tour by winning the second stage, where Spanish Víctor Gómez kept the leader's jersey by placing third in the stage concluded in Santigo de Cuba.

The winner of the sprints in the past Tour of Tachira in Venezuela, did not believe in the pre-competition favouritism of local Pedro Pablo Pérez – he had won the segment three times – and brought out the necessary strength to finish off in the last 500 metres ahead of Mexican Juan Magallanes.

The stage was run with continuous attacks from the start, above all by the local teams, which won two intermediate finishes, the first in La Maya with Reldys Pérez (ISCF-Cuba) and the second in La Ciudad Escolar 26 de Julio with Vicente Sanabria of Matanzas. The win in Songo went to Venezuelan Carlos Ochoa, one of the men set to lead the overall individual standings.

"I am very happy with the victory and can say in advance that I'll fight for more bonus sprints in this Tour, because I am very strong in the finishes and I want to become the best of America in the sprints," declared Anthony Brea, who hopes to race someday in the Giro d'Italia and in the World Championships.

Without big changes in the overall standings – Gómez and Brea are equal on the overall – the tour is becoming highly competitive, while the Cubans are trying to determine how to break the foreign dominance not only imposed by Venezuelans and Spaniards, but by Mexicans, Canadians and Germans.

On Thursday, the 129 contestants remaining in the classic will contest the 125 kilometres between Santiago de Cuba and Bayamo, with a mountain prize in Puerto Moya and three intermediate finishes in Palma Soriano, Contramaestre and Jiguaní.

According to Roberto Santalla, head coach of the national squad, his boys are not worried and are confident of the victory of its leader Pedro Pablo Pérez, fourth overall in the individual standings at 8 seconds, along with Mexican Juan Magallanes.

Queensland cyclists' successful national championships

Sunday night, February 11, at the Dunc Gray Velodrome, Sydney saw the conclusion of the National Track Cycling Championships. The championships which commenced on February 6 saw six nights of world class cycling with 25 athletes as part of the Queensland track cycling team.

This years Queensland Team included both local, national and international stars of the track, with established favourites such as Commonwealth and Olympic Champion Anna Meares. Meares chasing a clean sweep of gold medals after a successful season at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and on the international circuit representing Australia, took gold in the Time Trial, Keirin and Teams Sprint in which she paired up with her sister Kerrie Meares a former Commonwealth and National Champion. The real upset however came in the Women's Sprint final with Kerrie Meares wining the Gold in an event in which Meares has held the National title since 2004.

Also resenting Queensland was Under 19 female rider Philippa Hindmarsh from the Rockhampton Cycling Club, who was extremely successful riding her first year in the senior national titles, wining gold medals in the Sprint and Keirin and taking out silver in the Time Trial. Fellow Under 19 rider Byron Davis also proved his strength at his first senior national titles winning the Sprint and the Keirin and joining forces with team mates Joel Callaghan of Rockhampton and Malcolm Rudolph of Maryborough to win a bronze medal in the Teams Sprint.

A victorious Queensland Team returned home somewhat weary but bearing the sum total of 12 gold medals, 5 silver, and 2 bronze. The six nights of racing proving a success for the Queensland team and bringing to a close the Australian Track Season. Next on the horizon the 2007 Track Cycling World Championships to be held in Majorca, Spain in April. Cycling Australia is set to announce the Australian Team on the February 28.

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