First Edition Cycling News for February 24, 2007
Edited by Sue George with assistance from Susan Westemeyer
UCI lambastes ASO & cuts ties to Paris-Nice
By Cyclingnews staff
The UCI showed its frustration publicly today with the ongoing conflict involving the ASO in a two-part press release, one of which explained in a matter-of-fact way the consequences of Paris-Nice becoming a national calendar event while the other outlined detailed circumstances of the dispute in no less than 2,600 words. In that latter portion, the UCI had nothing but harsh words for ASO.
With a handful of vitriolic statements in the release, the UCI accused ASO conducting a "guerrilla war" against them with the "aim being not only to sabotage the UCI ProTour through every possible means, but also to undermine the UCI's legitimacy."
"The UCI must now accept that all attempts to negotiate have failed," said the press release. It accuses ASO of ignoring and deliberately acting outside of UCI rules to the detriment of all. "The UCI cannot accept this irresponsible behaviour, which is leading straight towards a state of anarchy...This situation is causing great harm to all those involved in cycling: riders, teams and especially sponsors."
The release outlines the history of the conflict, pointing out that the Tour de France organizers once supported the idea of the ProTour, even agreeing to take part in September 2004. Around the same time RCS, organizers of the Giro and other Italian events, and Unipublic, organizers of the Vuelta a Espana, also supported the ProTour.
The UCI explained how it has been constantly negotiating with ASO over the past few years, but said its efforts had been futile given that its every compromise made by the UCI brought more demands by ASO. "This manner of behaving is evidently unacceptable and is more like a fool's game than fair negotiations," said the release. "Talks cannot be held if one of the parties is demanding concessions without granting any itself."
The UCI goes on to dispute point by point the complaints that have been lodged by ASO against the UCI's ProTour over time. They summarized, "It is now clear that ASO's aim is to bring about the failure of the UCI ProTour in order to take its share of the power in cycling. ASO wants to get rid of the UCI, whose authority it does not recognise. This situation is dangerous and immediately leads to a state of anarchy."
The UCI points out that "ASO does not hesitate to oppose cycling's development when it believes that it is against its own interests, stating that it is against the general interest. That again is unjust. This measure involves a deliberate weakening of teams, for example by excluding them (ASO wants to exclude two teams from the UCI ProTour) and by reducing the duration of their right to take part in the UCI ProTour (three years instead of four)."
The statement also said, "To oppose the UCI is the same as opposing the outcome of a democratic debate of all parties involved in cycling. Nobody is allowed to do this, unless they advocate anarchy, where each one decides to follow the rules which serve its interests (even if that has consequences which are harmful for everyone)." The UCI then points to a complaint filed by ASO in December against the UCI to the European Commission and declares, "It therefore appears that ASO's objective is to destroy the UCI using all possible means, and by producing a new argument each time that the previous one has not been effective." The UCI filed a counter complaint with the European Commission in early January.
Highlighting the UCI's successes in reforming road cycling over the past few years, the release said, "Two years after the launch of the UCI ProTour, no organiser holding a licence nor any other UCI ProTeam has complained using the excuse that their trademark has been damaged. National Federations, apart from a handful of European Federations, all support the UCI ProTour. At the same time, continental calendars are continuing to develop. All indications show that the reform of Road cycling is a success. Only ASO and a few of its allies are against it."
Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for more news as the story unfolds.
UCI divorces itself from Paris-Nice
The UCI formalized its position following the change in status of Paris-Nice to a national-level event under the auspices of the French Cycling Federation. It also outlined several consequences of the race's downgrade from the international calendar to a national event.
First, the UCI confirmed that "teams holding a UCI ProTour licence and UCI professional continental teams will not be allowed to take part in this race. The rules in fact stipulate that these two types of teams cannot participate in a national race." Earlier this week, the UCI sent out letters to this effect to all ProTour teams.
The UCI also said it will play no role in drug testing or officiating. "International anti-doping bodies will not be able to test riders in this race. According to the rules, only national anti-doping bodies are allowed to carry out such tests at national races. UCI International Commissaires will not be able to officiate at Paris-Nice. The mission of an UCI International Commissaire is to ensure that UCI rules are respected. He/she cannot therefore support a race where the organiser is blatantly violating the international cycling rules." The French federation has said it will step up and handle anti-doping testing and officiating for the race.
The press release ended with an apology and a stab at race organizer ASO. "The UCI is sorry that teams and riders have been taken hostage by an organiser wanting to flout the rules that all parties in cycling are obliged to respect."
Yet six ProTour teams will still race
In defiance of UCI rules prohibiting ProTour teams from competing in non-ProTour events, six teams will race Paris Nice. According to Reuters, Rabobank, Gerolsteiner, T-Mobile, and Cofidis, Bouygues Telecom, and Francaise des Jeux have said they will start Paris-Nice on March 11.
Their announcement follows the letter from the UCI sent to all 20 ProTour teams saying participation in Paris Nice violated ProTour rules. The UCI has not stated what consequences will result if teams break the rule and race. The participation of T-mobile also contradicts what Cyclingnews reported yesterday based on comments by Rolf Aldag, the team's directeur sportif.
Paris-Nice is a popular race used by teams preparing for the upcoming Spring Classics.
CPA calls for conflict resolution
The Association of Professional Cyclists (CPA) issued a press release Friday afternoon, calling on both UCI and Grand Tour organisers to resolve the conflict over the ProTour, which has been troubling the sport since the inception of the road cycling reform two years ago. Appealing to both parties to "find the serenity and lucidity to breathe new life into the debate concerning the ProTour and, on a more general level, on the principles that govern our sport," the CPA did not take sides, criticising the arguments that the UCI, as well as the ASO have been putting forward.
Throughout the conflict, the French Tour de France organiser insisted that it was opposed to the ProTour because of its 'closed' nature - but the CPA "is perfectly aware of the real causes of this profound rift [...]. To continue to hide behind this purely demagogue argument and to block an innovative project that our sport needs to guarantee its future, will not help to appease the situation. [...] Let's not forget that the growth of the Tour de France these last decades was based on commercial aspects - exactly what the UCI plans for other races that don't have the reputation of those organised by ASO."
But the Association of Professional Cyclists also attacked the stance taken by the UCI. "The UCI has the moral obligation to lead cycling to a solution of the problem; it cannot engage in a battle for the prestige or the personal pride of its leaders. When all the parties practically had agreed on the number of ProTour licenses to attribute (18), the UCI embarked on the defense of the principle of 20 at all cost. On a more general level, the project of the ProTour as well as its realisation seemed somewhat hastened, which certainly contributed to heating up the conflict. [...] Wouldn't it have been possible to better manage these differences, so that they don't lead to much more severe conflicts?
"On behalf of the pro cyclists, the CPA would like to tell the organisers of the Grand Tours that its members will not take any initiative against the interests of their employers, and that if the teams decide to participate in Paris-Nice - thus contravening UCI regulations - they will be at the start in a regular way," the communiqué added.
Cyclingnews' recent coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split
October 4, 2008 - New ASO chief to maintain values
Milram will "follow the rules"
Will Team Milram participate in Paris-Nice, if the current controversy continues? No, Gerry van Gerwen, Commercial Manager, told Cyclingnews. "It is not a question of participating, but a matter of following the rules and instructions of the UCI."
He continued, "UCI ProTour teams cannot participate in a race on a national calendar: article 2.1.009 of the UCI regulations. So if the race Paris-Nice will be taken out of the UCI-governed cycling by the ASO and turns into a 'free' race on the French national calendar, it is clear that no UCI ProTour team is allowed to participate in Paris-Nice."
Rabobank's California "times"
The Tour of California continues to confuse its participants with the results that it publishes. Monday's first stage crash caused confusion, with some riders involved in it initially getting the same time as the winner and others getting a different time. Things were cleared up the next day, with all the riders involved in that crash finally being awarded the correct time, but on Thursday more problems popped up.
Team Rabobank was pleased to see that its entire team finished in the top 21 of the stage, a mass sprint. While sprinter Graeme Brown was unhappy with his fifth place finish, mountain climber Michael Rasmussen could celebrate his 16th place finish, which the team's website, rabobank.nl, called "quite remarkable, most likely a personal record in a bunch sprint."
There was only one problem: only Brown and his leadout man Mathew Hayman finished in the first group. "Rasmussen did not even finish in the pack. So it is impossible. I will also take the other rankings with a pinch of salt," said team manager Erik Breukink.
The results have already been changed, giving the Rabobank riders their correct times.
Ullrich: the saga continues
A Spanish court has turned down a request by Jan Ullrich to prevent the transfer of blood taken during Operación Puerto to German authorities for DNA comparison, the Süddeutsche Zeitung has reported.
The paper first reported Thursday night that Jan Ullrich's attorneys had recently filed suit to block the transfer of the blood. That drew a swift response from the German cyclist's attorneys, who claimed to have filed suit last year to block any action against Ullrich by the Spanish.
Bonn, Germany, prosecuting attorney Fred Apostel told the SZ that now nothing stood in the way of a DNA comparison in the near future.
Apostel also added that the future of his investigation was not dependent on what Ullrich announced at his press conference Monday, February 26. "The Ullrich case will continue," he said.
Swiss authorities will also continue their investigation, even if Ullrich should announce his retirement. "After all, we're talking about a lifetime ban, and nobody knows whether Ullrich might make a comeback," said Bernhard Welten of the Swiss Olympic Committee, who is running the investigation. Such a ban would also include work as a team manager or directeur sportif.
The SZ further said that Swiss authorities have found documents that explicitly prove a relationship between Ullrich and Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, a relationship which Ullrich has steadfastly denied. Apostel refused to comment on that statement, saying merely, "At some point, the things found in Switzerland will be made known."
Eisel boosted by team change ... into yellow
By Jean-François Quénet in Lagos and Susan Westemeyer
Bernhard Eisel finished second in the Volta ao Algarve's third stage Friday, but was not unhappy about it, as he was able to exchange his magenta T-Mobile jersey for the race leader's yellow jersey. He was awarded six seconds bonus time for placing second and thus took over the lead in the race, three seconds ahead of the day's winner, Alessandro Petacchi, and Gerd Steegmans, who is in third place.
It's nothing new in cycling to see Bernhard Eisel shining in Portuguese races but his move from Française des Jeux to T-Mobile seems to have boosted his performances. "I had a good time at FDJ, he said on the start line of stage 3 in the Tour of Algarve. They brought me up as I had no team after Mapei. I never had a problem with them. Of course I wasn't happy every day but I had the opportunity to ride all the big classics in my first year already up to a fifth place in Paris-Roubaix last year. I could have stayed with Marc Madiot but changing now is ideal for me."
"My team worked really well today," Eisel told sportpress.at.
"But I failed in the sprint. I was on the rear wheel of Marco Velo,
and Petacchi was on mine. 200 meters before the finish he pulled out and
went right by me. I just completely missed the sprint. I actually wanted
to make the
Eisel intends to leave the sprinting to teammates André Greipel and Gerald Ciolek. "They are faster than me on flat finishes, he said. But I have the experience of finishing one Giro and two Tour de Frances. I believe I can make another big step forward. It was great to finish fifth in Paris-Roubaix but I'm only 26 - I actually celebrated my birthday last Saturday at my friends' hotel Villa Joya here in the Algarve. It means I have another 10 years ahead of me to improve my ranking in my favorite classic. Honestly I don't think I'll still be a cyclist in 10 years time from now but I definitely don't want to stop where I am now."
The Austrian is very satisfied with the work done under the advice of T-Mobile trainer Sebastian Weber who makes him work on his sprinting abilities. "I like the set up of the new T-Mobile team, Eisel continued. It's a good mix of young and experienced riders. There's no prima donna, there isn't a really big rider, because of that we said: ok, let's make it together. It might take more than one season, but the management of T-Mobile wants to be back as the number one team in the world."
He hoped to defend his leader's jersey during Saturday's mountain stage. "We are separated only by seconds, and Petacchi and Steegmans are really strong in the mountains," Eisel noted. "But I will try everything and my T-Mobile Team will optimally support me again."
To view complete coverage of Friday's stage three, click here.
Two riders suspended in Algarve
Two riders from the Portuguese Continental Team Duja Tavira were removed from the Volta ao Algarve Friday because of elevated hematocrit values, which could indicate the use of illegal doping products. Samuel Calderia, of Portugal, and Daniel Petrow, of Bulgaria, were not allowed to start the third stage and will not be allowed to race for the next 15 days. Both riders were from the Duja Tavira team, which is regarded as Portugal's richest team.
Before stage 3, a total of 48 riders were blood tested, all from six different teams: Chocolade Jacques, Astana, Unibet.com, Duja Tavira, Fercase and Riberalves-Boavista.
T-Mobile women start racing down under
T-Mobile women's team will start its World Cup season in Australia with a stellar line-up including Ina-Yoko Teutenberg and Judith Arndt (who recently renewed her contract through to the end of 2008), as well as four newcomers - Kate Bates, Alexis Rhodes, Oenone Wood and Linda Villumsen.
Prior to the World Cup in Geelong, the team will start racing the 2007 season with the Geelong Tour stage race, to be held from February 27-March 1.
"These stage races, lasting several days, are the best preparation for the upcoming World Cup," said Teutenberg, who last year won a stage win in the Geelong Tour along with her World Cup victory.
Last year's Geelong Tour winner Oenone Wood showed that with tactical cleverness, it is possible to triumph in the race without winning a stage. With the time bonus system, the then Equipe Nürnberger rider claimed the overall winner's title for the third consecutive time.
The Geelong round of the 2007 UCI Womens' World Cup, to be held on March 3, kicks off the nine-race series. Eight 15km laps will be tackled by a field of 100 women.
"Our goal is to start the season as well as we did last year with a victory for Ina-Yoko Teutenberg," said team manager Kristy Scrymgeour. "If there's a sprint finish the 32-year-old from Düsseldorf has a good chance of a podium win." According to how the race develops, Scrymgeour has some other tactical options at her disposal. Of the six women in the team, Teutenberg and three other riders have already won podium places at the World Cup in Geelong. "The team is very strong and we will act as a single unit. Because of our riders' different strengths we will be able to respond the right way to every type of race situation," said Scrymgeour.
Geelong Tour 2007 stages
Stage 1 - Tuesday February 27: 8km Time Trial Portarlington
For full details of both the Geelong Tour and Geelong World Cup see the official website.
L'Acqua & Sapone Caffè Mokambo to Haute Var
The Acqua & Sapone Caffè Mokambo team will appear next at the 39th Tour du Haute Var in France on Sunday. Their team will be led by DS Bruno Cenghialta and includes Marco Cavallari, Alessandro Donati, Andrei Kunitski, Andrea Masciarelli, Simone Masciarelli, Giuseppe Palumbo, Aurélien Passeron, and Branislau Samoilau.
"We have a square team," asserted Cenghialta. "The three young people, Passeron, Kunitski, and Samoilau are in good from the Tour Méditerranéen. We will try Sunday to be protagonists."
Last year, Bertagnolli prevailed on Caucchioli and Van de Walle.
Caisse d'Epargne for Comunidad Valenciana
By Monika Prell
The team Caisse d'Epargne will send the following cyclists to the Vuelta a la Comunidad Valenciana from February 27 to March 3: the French champion, Florent Brard, the young Luis León Sánchez and Imanol Erviti, the time trialist José Iván Gutiérrez, the sprinter Vicente Reynes, the all-arounder Pablo Lastras and Fran Pérez, and Alejandro Valverde. The team will be directed by Eusebio Unzué.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2007)