Latest Cycling News for February 26, 2007
Edited by Gregor Brown
Volksbank and Ullrich: "The sensation is perfect!"
By Susan Westemeyer
Austria's Team Volksbank and Jan Ullrich will work together, with the German star playing "a deciding role in the future of the Volksbank Team," the Professional Continental team announced Monday, shortly after Ullrich announced his retirement.
Team Manager Thomas Kofler said, "This is not an ordinary job for Jan Ullrich but a passion. He will use his experience to build the healthy basis for a secure future for the Volksbank team. Jan Ullrich fits wonderfully in our concept: We will keep on our path and go after the big goals with small steps. And who knows, perhaps we can nibble at some of the bigger teams in the foreseeable future. Ullrich's charisma will help our riders outside of the races, too. I am optimistic and look forward to our joint future with one of the most colourful and popular personalities of the German-speaking cycling world."
Pozzato marks season first in Haut Var
Sunday in France at the Tour du Haut Var, Filippo Pozzato took his first win for 2007, his first for new team Liquigas and added his name to a past list of winners that includes Laurent Jalabert and Davide Rebellin. The 25 year-old was delighted with his win after an off-season of hard work and a solid 2007 start.
Pippo, who finished third in the Trofeo Laigueglia, was once again subjected to the Ignatiev Missile. The same Russian rider that won last week, Mikhail Ignatiev (Tinkoff Credit Systems), attacked hard in the finale of the French race but this time he was a marked man. "He had tried again here in this race but this time we would not let him go 10 metres," explained the rider from Veneto to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "I closed down his moves three times, then my teammate, [Aleksandr] Kuschynski, led me out for the sprint. We were perfect.
"We deserved the win, after a lot of placings. It serves as a reminder, with the wins of [Alessandro] Petacchi and [Paolo] Bettini, to not forget about me."
Pippo is preparing March's Milano-Sanremo, and this win will give him the needed confidence boost, and rally the team support, for a repeat on the Via Roma. Coming up on his schedule is a weekend in the north to race Het Volk and Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne, where he will face old teammate and new rival Tom Boonen (Quickstep-Innergetic).
"I am not afraid, I will go to play my cards," he continued regarding Boonen. "I race to win and I have a competitive team. [Het Volk] is a small Tour of Flanders and serves as a good pavé test. It is important for making my preparations for Sanremo."
Simon Gerrans shines in Haut Var
By Jean-François Quénet
Finishing second behind Filippo Pozzato sounds like a pretty good result for Simon Gerrans but the Victorian actually made it clear after the Tour du Haut Var that he wasn't happy with the result. "I'm really disappointed," he commented. "With a couple of hundred metres to go, I got blocked and I had to re-start sprinting. Then I threw my bike to the line but too early. I was up there by myself. Pozzato had teammates with him, Tinkoff was well represented also. I had to do a fair bit coming to the finish. The legs are there, the form isn't far away, that's all I can say."
In his third year as a professional, Gerrans is becoming a highly feared rider, not only in Australia, where he has won the Tour Down Under and twice the Sun Tour. He's also a protected rider at Ag2r Prévoyance, for which he aims for a third participation in the Tour de France. He recently launched his personal website, simongerrans.com, where he inaugurated a competition for the registered members. Fans have until the end of February to take part in the first draw for an Ag2r Prévoyance personal jersey.
Why no blood testing in North American racing?
By Kirsten Robbins with additional reporting by Tim Maloney
The question remains as to why North American racing has not adopted blood-testing as part of a standard doping control procedure. "I have no idea why they haven't done blood testing in the USA," T-Mobile's Michael Barry told Cyclingnews at the Tour of California. "I imagine it has something to do with financial or legal reasons. But I was talking to a lot of the guys from [US pro team] Health Net and riders who race here, and no one has been blood tested. But, I think it would be a good idea to adopt it in the North America. There is all this talk about EPO testing but the biggest and most effective controls in Europe have been the hematocrit tests and it would make sense to use those here as well."
Barry's boss, T-Mobile team manager Bob Stapleton has implemented an aggressive team anti-doping initiative for 2007 and his frank comments echo his corporate experience outside of cycling. "I think that blood testing is one of the most useful things you can do in terms of any anti-doping programs," Stapleton explained to Cyclingnews. "Building blood profiles really track athletes over time is one of the most productive uses to testing research. The problem is it raises the sophistication of collecting samples dramatically. You have to have phlebotomists that are trained in handling of blood, and the sample of blood is much more problematic and it is a big increase in cost and sophistication. It is a tremendous increase in complexity."
Stapleton continued, "I understand why some of it hasn't happened in many federations for practical reasons because it is a big challenge. But I also feel that it is the best thing we can do. I think the other aspect of anti-doping in terms of improving efficiency and effectiveness is to really do target testing of specific riders, specific events and specific times. We know that in preparation for certain events there is a doping process in place. So if we can pick athletes that are not normally tested to make things fair across all the athlete pool where everyone has the same chance of being tested that's done at times where it is more likely to have doping or blood manipulation, it should be done then and blood needs to be drawn. I think those are very clear steps that can be taken to improve the effectiveness of anti-doping."
Stapleton also explained that "I see blood testing becoming a cornerstone of the ProTour's anti-doping efforts but I think that USADA is one of the most progressive [anti-doping agencies], and I would like to see them grab this and work with it more. They are much better on the whereabouts and tracking profiles athletes than many other anti-doping agencies are. I am hoping that they can increase the use of blood testing in anti-doping for US athletes in US races."
Former US TT champion Chris Baldwin of Toyota-United weighed in on the topic. "I can't verbalize how irate it makes me that there is this war on doping and the things we do to put ourselves out there and to be tested at home or out of competition, to be in that clean group of riders, and they did not test for EPO at a race of this calibre last year!" Baldwin firmly stated. "It's out of my realm to comment on blood testing. I just wish that they did blood test and that there was more testing. There needs to be more. I am tested at home several times a month and I wish they would test more in the events. When I am tested it is always a urine test."
UCI's medical officer at the Tour of California, Shawn Farrell, is unaware of why he is sent to certain races and not others or why blood testing is not used. "I am not really in that loop," Farrell said. "The UCI sends me to do anti-doping at certain events and they tell me whether they are doing urine or blood. I know that they come here occasionally for blood testing but there is a very select group that they do that with and I have never been asked. I am not apart of the decision making process."
Farrell added, "The UCI decided each year which races are several lists for blood testing. There is the A-list which means the UCI is going to assign the anti-doping inspectors for each specific race. There is the B-list and that means that the federation has to send someone or USADA provides the anti-doping inspector. The UCI also decides which races have to have blood testing and that is totally up to them."
Why no blood testing in the USA seems to be a question that can only be answered by the UCI. But as far as the 2007 Tour of California is concerned there have been requests made and measures taken to conduct EPO testing via urine testing conducted at the UCLA Olympic Lab. Amgen, the title sponsor of the race, has taken steps to educate the public on the correct use of their products. Michael Barry further emphasized "I think first and for most EPO is a very effective drug in fighting cancer and that is important and means a lot in the cancer community. Amgen has done a lot for our sport of cycling with the rides and the race, plus all the promotion they have done for the sport and for the cancer community is unforgettable."
T-Mobile blood tests have started
T-Mobile has already done two blood volume tests on its riders, as well as one round of unannounced tests on selected riders, according to team doctor Lothar Heinrich.
The blood volume tests are part of the team's anti-doping program, and will be repeated periodically to identify any changes which might indicate the use of illegal products. The first round of tests was done at the team's meeting in Lugano in November, and the second round was conducted at the Mallorca training camp in January.
"The first unannounced control during competition was held at the Mallorca Challenge," Heinrich noted on the team's website, t-mobile-team.com. "We will use this data and all the other blood values to put together the so-called blood profile, which will be sent to an independent panel of experts for their review and analysis."
Davide Rebellin doesn't give up
By Jean-François Quénet in Portimão, Portugal
Davide Rebellin is the only one left from the "golden Italian generation" born in 1971, although he is one year younger than Michele Bartoli, Marco Pantani, Francesco Casagrande and the assimilated Evgeni Berzin who have all made the headlines in the 90s. Rebellin, the quietest of them, will celebrate his 36th birthday in August of this year, ten years after scoring two World Cup wins in a row for Française Des Jeux (in San Sebastián and GP Zurich).
"At the time I wouldn't have thought I'd keep riding for ten more years but I still love this sport," he said just after the finish of the last stage of the Tour of Algarve in Portimão. "My contract with Gerolsteiner ends up this year but for sure I'll ride for another season in 2008, then we'll see. My motivation is intact so far."
It was obvious at the Tour of Algarve where he finished second in the hardest stage after riding very aggressively in the hills and he finished fourth overall. "The course wasn't hard enough for beating Alessandro Petacchi," he added. "This is my first race of the year. I'm not at the best of my condition yet but I'm happy with how I went this week. My program remains the one I prefer; hopefully Paris-Nice, then Milan-Sanremo, the Vuelta Pais Vasco and my three favourite classics."
Rebellin is the only rider to have scored three in a row in the Ardennes Classics: Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2004. He reckons he's not too old for making it again.
Geelong Tour and World Cup kick off
This weekend, fans will be treated to a weekend of world class sport and community participation events with action centred on the UCI Women's Road Cycling World Cup and the Australian Triathlon Championships. City of Greater Geelong Mayor, Cr Bruce Harwood, today joined with the reigning Australian Criterium Champion, cycling's Alexis Rhodes, and under 23 world champion, triathlon's Erin Densham, to launch the weekend's great sporting festival, Wheels on Waterfront Geelong.
South Australia's Alexis makes her debut in the professional ranks with the T-Mobile Team this week when she races the Geelong Tour, running from Tuesday to Thursday before Saturday's World Cup.
Saturday kicks off with more than 100 of the world's best women cyclists in the Geelong World Cup, the opening round of the 2007 UCI Women's Road World Cup Series. The field includes seven of the world's top ten ranked women cyclists and the top four women's professional teams. Olympic Champion, Sara Carrigan, Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Natalie Bates and two time World Cup Champion and former world ranked number one, Oenone Wood will take on the likes of world ranked number one, Nicole Cooke from Great Britain, 2006 Geelong World Cup winner, Ina Teutenberg (Ger) and a host of other leading names representing the major teams in world cycling.
The field will contest eight laps of a challenging 15 kilometre circuit for a total race distance of 120 kilometres. To prepare for the World Cup the riders will contest the three-day Geelong Tour that kicks off tomorrow, Tuesday, at Portarlington. For full details of the Geelong Tour and the Geelong UCI Women's Road World Cup please visit www.geelongworldcup.com
In addition to the two elite events, five community events have been organised. Over 2700 people have signed up to compete in Saturday's 160km Great Ocean & Otway Classic Ride and the 90km Great Anglesea Ride, and the entry list is filling fast for the Olympic distance triathlon for amateurs to be staged on Sunday morning.
City of Greater Geelong Mayor Cr Bruce Harwood said the City, through Geelong Major Events, was once again honoured to support these two prominent events on the region's sporting calendar. "The UCI Women's Road Cycling World Cup and Australian Triathlon Championships join a number of prominent national and international events which have earned the City of Greater Geelong a reputation as being a major events capital," said Mayor Harwood.
"The best thing is that it's free for everyone to enjoy, all day Saturday and Sunday. If you want a great day out, base yourself at Steampacket Gardens as so much of the action centres on the Waterfront - plus there'll be plenty of family entertainment.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2007)