First Edition Cycling News for February 23, 2007
Edited by Sue George and Steve Medcroft
Team managers want resolution over Paris-Nice
By Susan Westemeyer and Cyclingnews staff
Following ASO's decision to change the status of Paris-Nice to a National "free-event" and remove it from the UCI ProTour and the UCI's subsequent request to all ProTour teams to boycott the race, the professional peloton has generally expressed a desire for more dialogue to resolve the situation.
At the Tour of California, Gerolsteiner's team manager Hans-Michael Holczer could only stare in amazement at what was happening. "Those of us here in California can only look and wonder at the vehemence that both sides are bringing against each other at this time," he said.
There was also a similar consensus in the Discovery team camp in California. George Hincapie said he heard about the status of Paris-Nice in the peloton during Thursday's 213-kilometer stage from Seaside to San Luis Obispo. "I heard about it on the ride. Everybody [in the peloton] is saying that they [ASO and the UCI] need to work it out. It's a big race. They will need the big teams. They need to come to an agreement."
Newly appointed Discovery Channel team director Viatcheslav Ekimov said, "Nobody is going to win if they don't work it out; not the riders, the race or the ProTour."
According to Discovery's team manager Johan Bruyneel, the ProTour team managers present at the Tour of California have plans to meet Friday evening to discuss, among other issues, how to respond to the Paris-Nice situation.
At the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal, Française des Jeux manager Marc Madiot was certain of his team's particpation in the race to the sun. "I received the letter from the UCI but I'm going to Paris-Nice as every year," affirmed Madiot.
Eric Boyer, manager of Cofidis, told L'Equipe: "For our sponsor and especially for our racers, who are there to ride a bike and do not have to be taken as a hostage of a conflict between the international federation and the organisers, it is a question of good direction."
Reaction in the German ProTour peloton was mixed. Rolf Aldag, directeur sportif of the T-Mobile Team, said on the team's web site, t-mobile-team.com, "We are a cycling team and as such, we of course want to ride races. As a matter of principle, we would not boycott a race for political reasons, and we hope for an agreement between the parties. If the UCI forbids us to start, then we will naturally do what they say, because we support the ProTour and the UCI as the neutral authority of cycling."
Rabobank manger Theo De Rooy was quoted on tuttobiciweb.com as saying that he doesn't want to boycott Paris Nice. "I assert that nobody wants to boycott Paris-Nice or other races. I confirm that Rabobank and the other formations of the ProTour have received a letter from the UCI in which it reminds us of the regulations that prevent us from participating.. Another firm point of issue is that the UCI is the maker of the regulations and has the task to manage cycling. To this point, we the team managers cannot wait for the next moves by the UCI and ASO. We begin to feel a need for one common strategy."
Cyclingnews' recent coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split
October 4, 2008 - New ASO chief to maintain values
USA Cycling received no requests for EPO tests in '06 ToC
By Kirsten Robbins, with additional reporting by Tim Maloney
USA Cycling has claimed it never received any instructions to organize tests for the doping agent EPO at the 2006 Tour of California, even though the race organizer has confirmed this request was made by the event's lead sponsor, Amgen, the biotechnology firm that is one of the world's largest manufacturers of the drug.
Sean Petty, the chief operating officer for USAC, told Cyclingnews' Kirsten Robbins, "Had I been asked a follow-up question in the press conference (see report), I would have been happy to respond with what I know about the anti-doping requests of last year's Tour of California".
Petty said USA Cycling "can and does request blood tests or EPO tests for races, but unless a request is made (by the race organizer), only standard anti-doping procedures are used. It is the UCI's prerogative to do further types of testing anywhere else".
Petty then clarified the situation somewhat: "There were no specific requests for EPO testing from AEG or Medallist Sports that came to USA Cycling, and I am not sure if a request was made or if it just didn't get to us. No paperwork went through us and we did not know anything about the anti-doping procedures that were happening at the Tour of California last year."
It's understood that the USAC does not govern or decide anti-doping test measures, nor do they decide where they are practiced during the cycling events in the USA. It is the UCI or USADA that determine the testing procedures during cycling events.
"The UCI figures out where to test, how many tests to do and whether it is inside or outside of competition testing," Petty said. "A lot of that is to protect the effectiveness of the testing."
The issue of the race's lead sponsor's anti-doping request being ignored was revealed on the eve of the second edition of the Tour of California by New York Times reporter Ed Wyatt. His report stated that Amgen had specifically requested these tests of race owner Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG).
Although Petty made no response to questions about the revelations during the pre-race press conference last Saturday, he later said many of the questions were directed toward race director Jim Birrell of Medalist Sports, AEG's contractor that runs the race for the LA based firm.
Eisel gives T-Mobile its first win
By Susan Westemeyer
Bernhard Eisel was happy to bring the T-Mobile Team its first win of the season. "This seems to be a good place for me," he said of the Volta ao Algarve, where he won his fourth career stage Thursday.
The Austrian sprinter also moved up to second in the overall classification, only three seconds behind leader Gert Steegmans.
Eisel, like the other sprinters, was keeping an eye on Alessandro Petacchi in the "hectic and neck-breaking finale," he said on the team's website, t-mobile-team.com. "Milram went into the last curve at full risk. Then Petacchi lost the wheel of his lead-out man." Suddenly there was a gap of some 10 meters between the Italian sprinter and his teammates, "a gap that he couldn't close."
But it was a gap that Eisel could take advantage of. "The finale worked out perfectly for me," he said. He "picked out the right wheel to be on," that being David Kopp of Gerolsteiner, and shot by him with 200 meters to go.
Volksbank continues upward trajectory
By Susan Westemeyer
Team Volksbank is heading into its second season as a Professional Continental Team and wants to "put into practice what we were allowed to learn last year," said team manager Thomas Kofler. "This concerns the sporting experiences as well as the team management and the organization of the team."
In an interview on the team's website, team-volksbank.com, Kofler, 34, noted that the team has improved itself every year of its existence, and that the year, priority was given to the riders. "I think we moved up a gear and signed riders with strong qualifications. Furthermore we kept the best riders of last year's team, so I think we have a strong team." But that wasn't the only change this year. "We also improved concerning the material, logistics and the motor pool. This is very important for our appearance at the races and shows our professionalism to the organizers and the spectators. You don't have a professional team just because of professional contracts for the riders. A professional team also consists of good infrastructure, good material and a good staff."
The Austrian team's highlights this year will be the Tour de Suisse, the national championships, the Tour of Austria and the Deutschland Tour. "But we shouldn't frustrate us with exact terms of reference. Sure, the expectations are much higher than last season. The riders set their goals, not the team. This is why we signed focused riders."
Many small teams dream of one day joining the ProTour, but not Kofler. "I don't think that it is an aim to aspire to the ProTour as it is today. I think there are certain advantages for a good professional team and you are more flexible by choosing the races. You always make a mark on organizers with your appearance. That's how you get consideration even at big races. As a team from Austria, that is internationally regarded as a Second-World country in cycling, we see our mission in realizing structures adapted to the highest international standards and to fascinate the fans and many youths for this great sport."
Ullrich to Volksbank?
By Susan Westemeyer
"Ullrich is moving to Austria," trumpeted a headline at Sportbild.de Thursday evening. "The sensation is complete!" The German will announce Monday at his press conference that he would be joining the Austrian Professional Continental Team Volksbank -- although they weren't sure whether as a rider or as a Directeur Sportif.
The Sportbild article is full of optimistic quotes from Volksbank Team Manager Thomas Kofler, but he subsequently denied the whole thing to the dpa press agency. Kofler admitted that it would fulfill a "childhood dream" to hire Ullrich, but that he "absolutely denied" a contract with him. "We are just one of many teams that have talked to him," Kofler said, and admitted that he found it "very, very difficult" to imagine signing Ullrich.
Meanwhile, Ullrich's legal story took yet another unexpected turn -- apparently. Sueddeutsche.de reported Thursday night that at the same time that Ullrich voluntarily gave a DNA sample to German authorities, his attorneys were in Spain trying to prevent Spanish authorities from turning over to German investigators bags allegedly containing his blood.
In addition, the newspaper claimed that the German investigators were discussing the possibility of opening a process against Fuentes on the grounds of assisting in a fraud.
Manchester World Cup draws Olympians
At the press conference held to kick off the track World Cup in Manchester on Thursday, four Olympians, including Britain's Chris Hoy and Bradley Wiggins and Australian sprinters Anna Meares and Ryan Bayley, spoke about their form and expectations going into a weekend packed with racing.
Hoy is on deck for plenty of racing. "It's quite a big weekend for me in terms of the volume of racing with the kilo on Friday, the sprint on Saturday, and the team sprint and Japanese Keirin on Sunday. The results are important but it is also a sort of dress rehearsal for the world championships."
While many riders are using the Manchester World Cup as a dry run for Worlds at the end of next month, the Australian team has yet to be finalized. Double Olympic medallist Bayley is aiming to secure his spot on the worlds team. "I am racing in the sprint at Manchester and hoping to qualify myself a sprint spot in the team. I am pretty sure that we have got enough spots, but I would rather do it on my own merits. I will be riding the sprint and the team sprint and then the JKA Keirin on Sunday. All of the best sprinters in the world are here for that and I am looking forward to it. It's always a hard race."
Current 500m time trial record holder Anna Meares will not be riding the women's team sprint with her sister Kerrie. "Kerrie is at home in Adelaide," said Anna: "I will be riding the team sprint with Christine Bayley. Kerrie hasn't done a qualifying time to ride for the Australian team at the world championships yet, and she has until Sunday to do it, and then it will be between Kerrie and Christine for who rides at the worlds in the team sprint."
Meares played down the idea of another world record attempt in Manchester. "I am tempted," she said, "but I just feel that there is no need for me to ride another 500 until the world champs. I am chasing the rainbow jersey this year for that event particularly. I just don't think it is necessary to really push myself after some tough competitions and a thirty-hour flight because I can write myself off after two laps. I don't want to do that with four weeks to go to the world championships."
Manchester will hold the world track championships in 2008.
Wiggins bruised but not broken
"I was training last Thursday and the towel got caught in the front wheel and it catapulted backwards at quite a speed," said Wiggins. "There was a danger that I might not be able to ride this weekend as I had quite a nasty gash at the time but things seemed to heal quite quickly over the weekend. It was just one of those things. I thought I would go on the treadmill instead of going out on the road because it is quite dangerous on the road and I ended up crashing on the treadmill. It would have been a shame to miss the world cup in Manchester.
Wiggins will compete in the individual pursuit Friday against arch rival Australian Bradley McGee. He'll also ride in the men's 4000m team pursuit Saturday with the rest of the British squad.
Irish Team returns to Track World Cup circuit
By Shane Stokes
It's been a long time since Ireland fielded a team in a round of the track world cup but that will change this weekend, with a total of five riders to compete in Manchester.
David O'Loughlin already competed in Los Angeles, placing fifth and qualifying for next month's world track championships in Palma, Majorca. He will take part in three events this weekend the individual pursuit on Friday, and then the team pursuit and points race on Saturday.
His Navigators Insurance team-mate Ciarán Power will ride the scratch race on Friday, while he, O'Loughlin, Dermot Nally and Paul Healion are the lineup for the team pursuit. Louise Moriarty is the sole female rider on the squad, and she will go in the womens individual pursuit on Saturday.
Cycling Ireland's high performance manager Frank Campbell said on Thursday that he was happy with the preparation of the Irish squad. They were training in the Newport velodrome earlier this week but have since travelled to Manchester and have been riding the boards there.
Campbell said that the competition is stiffer for O'Loughlin than in Los Angeles. "We've just finished the managers' meeting and there are more teams and more riders here than any other World Cup this year," he stated."Some of the top pursuit riders are here - Bradley McGee, Bradley Wiggins, all the top guys. But I would still like to think David will finish in the top ten and improve on his Irish record, which is probably the big thing for us. We want to start taking time off that."
Campbell says that if O'Loughlin can build on what he has done so far, he should be able to post a time in the region of four minutes 25 seconds, roughly five seconds inside the Irish record he set last autumn.
He says that the fact that the riders are new to the team pursuit makes it a little uncertain as regards what to expect. Again, a good time is the target. "The guys have pulled together very, very well. We have set a benchmark of somewhere in the region of four minutes 20 seconds for the team pursuit, which they have already done in training in Newport. That would put us in a reasonable position time-wise."
Moriarty will ride the women's pursuit and Campbell is hopeful that she can also break the Irish record by about five seconds. "She has been training very, very hard in Newport and producing some very good times. It's too late in terms of points for her to qualify for the worlds but as is the case with the others, it's all about building experience here for the future."
O'Loughlin will also ride the points race and Campbell says that if he performs well, he has a chance of doing two disciplines in the worlds in Palma. "If he gains some points again this weekend he should qualify for the world championships as well, which would give him another string to his bow."
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Gerry McManus
Pozzato and Nibali lead Liquigas for Haut Var
Coming off a third place at the Trofeo Laigueglia, Filippo Pozzato and Vincenzo Nibali will lead the Liquigas Team at the Tour du Haut Var on Sunday in France.
Team manager Dario Mariuzzo is counting on a team that will also include Patrick Calcagni, Murilo Fischer, Roman Kreuziger, Aliaksandr Kuchynski, Matej Mugerli, and Alessandro Vanotti.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2007)