First Edition Cycling News for February 27, 2007
Edited by Greg Johnson & Ben Abrahams
Ullrich's final chapter
By Susan Westemeyer
The final chapter in Jan Ullrich's career as a professional cyclist was written on Monday, when the German announced his retirement from competition following the fallout from the Spanish authority's Operación Puerto investigation. "I am ending my active career. It was not an easy decision, but when the inner voice speaks, you have to listen to it," declared the former T-Mobile rider.
"I have thought a lot about my life and I think that it is time for something new, time to take the step in life after my active career. I have had so many successes in this wonderful sport, now it is time to seek out new challenges."
At a press conference Monday morning in Hamburg, Germany, Ullrich said he was not bitter and that he had nothing to blame himself for. While Ullrich refused to directly address the issue of doping, Operación Puerto or Dr. Fuentes, he did send one clear message to those at the conference: "I have never cheated."
Describing the sport as his love and passion, Ullrich announced he will stay involved in cycling as an advisor to Team Volksbank, a small Austrian Professional Continental team where he will be involved in marketing and public relations.
One thing that particularly appealed to Ullrich about the team was that it had offered not only to hire him as a rider, but also to hire the people that he wanted to bring with him. "That really impressed me," he stated.
For the full news feature on Jan Ullrich's press conference, click here.
UK team is ready to score in Europe
By Gerard Knapp
Moving up a grade can be a daunting task, but for the British registered DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed squad, it has at least given itself a very good chance of succeeding where and when it will count.
And for this squad, it will be the all-important upcoming races in northern European countries like Belgium, Holland and France over the next few months. The team, which has made the jump from the UCI's Continental to Professional Continental status in 2007, will be led by a very fit and motivated Nico Mattan, the wily 34 year old Belgian seemingly determined to show the ProTour teams who didn't offer him a contract for 2007 that he is still capable of taking out a major race, like he did with his victory at Gent-Wevelgem in 2005 while with Davitamon-Lotto.
Supporting Mattan will be a multinational squad of 18, including two reigning national champions - Great Britain's Hamish Haynes and Finland's Matti Helminem - and on the weekend prior to their official launch in Holland, Dutchman Jens Mouris bagged a gold medal in the Madison at the Manchester round of the UCI Track world cup, partnering Danny Stam in a convincing display on the boards.
Mouris is one of the team's quiet strongmen and he was back across the channel in time for the launch event, held at the McDOS Goffertstadion in Nijmegen, Holland, on Monday, February 26. The choice of a Dutch premier league football stadium may have seemed incongruous to a cycling squad, except it was an example of a new sponsor for the team leveraging an existing sports sponsorship asset.
For the full DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed team launch feature, click here.
T-Mobile holding the aces for Geelong Tour and World Cup
By John Flynn in Geelong, Australia
German juggernaut T-Mobile enters today's opening stage of the Geelong Women's Tour as the team to watch - with its galaxy of stars including last year's Geelong Tour winner Oenone Wood (formerly Nürnberger) and 2006 Geelong World Cup Winner Ina-Yoko Teutenberg.
Wood, who is one of three Australians in the T-Mobile lineup for the Tour is returning from a longer than usual off-season. It's a deliberate measure which the former World Cup Series Champion hopes will lead to success in Europe in 2007.
"For quite a few of us it's the first race of the season and a little bit of an unknown," Wood told Cyclingnews before the start of today's Geelong Tour's opening stage. "But I think we have an incredibly strong team here so we've got a great chance to win the individual stages and win the whole Tour."
T-Mobile has no shortage of options in Geelong, including Wood's Australian team-mates Australian criterium champion Alexis Rhodes and 2006 Australian Road Race Champion Kate Bates.
But it's T-mobile's sprint weapon Ina-Yoko Teutenberg who is rumoured to be in just as sharp form as she was in 2006, when the German champion won the Geelong World Cup.
Teutenberg has spent the Australian summer training and racing in Sydney and, according to T-Mobile's new Directeur Sportif Anna Wilson, will be a rider to watch.
"I've been hearing rumours about her from Melbourne when she's been riding the bunches in Sydney and beating the guys in sprints." Wilson said. "All six of our riders are capable of winning, so that gives us a huge advantage,"
The Geelong Tour begins with an eight kilometre time trial on the waterfront at Port Arlington.
Backstedt's operation successful
After going under the knife for the fourth time in four months Magnus Backstedt could finally be on the road to recovery. The big Swede's latest operation to remove the plate and pin from his collarbone has left him with a fighting chance of getting back to form for his beloved Paris-Roubaix on April 15. "Straight away I was in less pain than when I lay down on the operating table," said Backstedt. "I haven't had a pain free moment in four months and I couldn't hold back the tears I cried like a little kid!"
The Liquigas rider was involved in a high speed crash back in October when he and fellow countryman Freddy Johansson got tangled in a Madison change sending Backstedt straight into the bottom of the banking and snapping his shoulder on impact, resulting in a 5th degree shoulder separation.
Following this year's Volta a Mallorca Backstedt returned home to the UK and met with his surgeon who decided to remove the plate and pin inserted after the October crash and reset the collarbone.
It's been a testing year for the 2004 Paris-Roubaix winner who crashed on the opening day of his season in 2006 and suffered a career threatening knee injury, but Backstedt has now revealed a more sinister problem that he has also had to deal with alongside everything else.
"I visited the doctor in December because of a mole that I didn't like the look of. He removed it anyway and said it was probably nothing to worry about. Then in January I received the news that it was a malignant melanoma, skin cancer! I then had to have another operation where they took a piece of skin 9cm by 5 cm from my chest."
"As you can imagine I am now quite a beauty with my shirt off," joked Backstedt. "We as bike riders whether you are a pro or otherwise, spend a lot of time in the sun. I have got the all clear, but I am now going to look at raising awareness of the risks of skin cancer. I am though ready to get back and put all this behind me. I am so fired up to get back to my best."
Rubiera prefers Giro and Vuelta
By Antonio J. Salmerón
Discovery Channel's superdomestique 'Chechu' Rubiera may opt out of this year's Tour de France in favour of riding both the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España. "I prefer the Giro because that is cycling in its pure state," said the Spaniard to local newspaper La Hora de Asturias. "The racing style has plenty of fighting. I need to be as good as possible in both the Giro and the Vuelta."
"Not many riders choose the Vuelta, mainly because it is at the end of the season, and is a little more difficult to find the necessary motivation."
Rubiera's last big win came way back in the 2000 Giro when he claimed the mountainous stage 13 to Val Gardena whilst riding for Kelme, but the 34 year-old has no regrets about his years spent at the service of Lance Armstrong. "I am satisfied to have always fought to gain a victory and to help my teammates," he said. "Armstrong was very demanding with himself; hard training, sacrifice and yield, and we tried to fulfill those expectations that he put on us. In fact, we continue to have a good relationship."
On the inevitable subject of doping, Rubiera said: "The human body has a limit, and the accumulation of circumstances such as media pressure urges some riders to use performance enhancing drugs. From my point of view, doping is the responsibility of all us. However, if it is not possible to prove that a rider has doped, he may have many suspicions against him, but for me, that man has the right to continue competing.
Oscar Pereiro: The long wait
Oscar Pereiro, tenth in 2004, tenth in 2005, and now perhaps the winner of the biggest race in cycling? He's still waiting for the USADA vs. Floyd Landis hearing which will determine if that will be the case, but it's one of the two possible outcomes to the saga which has shaken the sport. Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes sat down with the Spaniard at the pre-season training camp in Mallorca and talked about this and many other topics.
He's won a stage and been tenth twice, but when Oscar Pereiro lined out at the start of the 2006 Tour de France he didn't dare dream he had a chance of winning the biggest race in cycling. Yet that may come to pass. On May 14 Floyd Landis will have his long-awaited hearing with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA); sometime after that it will be decided if the American will lose his Tour crown, and if the title will consequently go to the Spaniard.
Ever since July 15 things have been somewhat surreal for the Galician. He had a bad day in the Pyrenees and came out of the first set of high mountains far behind the then-race leader Landis. 2004 and 2005 had seen him take top ten finishes in the event but with a repeat of that looking to be a long way from possible; stage wins were to be the new target.
At around 12.10 pm on that day Pereiro set about chasing that aim, going clear in a group a full 207 kilometres from the finish in Montélimar. He and his breakaway companions rode hard and, against all odds, their lead skyrocketed. He ended up recouping the entire 28'50" deficit he had at the start of the stage. Race leader Floyd Landis had decided it was too soon to be in yellow and with he and his Phonak team elected not to chase, the Spaniard finished the day 1'29" in front.
For the first part of Cyclingnews' Oscar Pereiro interview, click here.
New sports director for CSC
Team CSC has appointed Jørgen V. Pedersen to the position of sports director after Dutchman Tristan Hoffman announced last autumn that he would be leaving his position on Bjarne Riis' squad. Pedersen, now 47 years-old, was the second Dane in history to wear the Tour de France yellow jersey, keeping it for four days during the 1986 edition - the first being fellow CSC sports director Kim Anderson.
"A lot has happened within the cycling sport since I was a rider and of course I'll have to get myself up to speed," admitted Pedersen to team-csc.com. "I'll be taking it slow at the beginning, watching and learning from the other sports directors. I've got quite a lot of contacts through my previous job - especially in Italy - so I won't have a problem with all the practical stuff."
"But life as a rider is very different from when I was a neo-pro living in a small room with no heating or phone in the early eighties. So it's probably a whole other mentality now as well. But I'm very much looking forward to it all," he concluded.
The Dane began his new job at the Tour du Haut Var in France on Sunday and will face his first big assignment in Tirreno-Adriatico starting on March 14.
Four teams confirmed for the Vuelta a la Comunidad Valenciana
By Monika Prell
David Bernabeu will be the leader of Fuerteventura - Canarias in the Vuelta a la Comunidad Valenciana. The cyclist, who has already stood on the podium twice in this tour, will be assisted by almost all of his Valenciana teammates: Adrián Palomares, Vicente Ballester, David Muñoz, Javier Cherro, David Belda, Oleg Chuzhda and Dailos Díaz.
According to todociclismo.com, the Sport Director Oscar Guerrero is prudent: "We won't ride there with the obligation to win, we have to maintain the level of the Vuelta a Andalucía, where we saw a combative team, until winning the final team classification. In the Vuelta a la Comunidad Valenciana we will have to be attentive every day, even if I believe that the key will be in El Campello. This must be the important day, but this year it's also harder before the final ascent. So I think that we will see more differences."
The team Relax-Gam will participate with the new-signed hope Oscar Sevilla as the leader of the team. He will be supported by his teammates Angel Vicioso, José Miguel Elías, José Rafael Martínez, Jesús Hernández, Angel Vallejo, Raúl García and Daniel Moreno, who has already won the last stage of the Tour de San Luis this year.
Gorka Gerrikagoitia will be the Sport Director of the team Euskaltel-Euskadi that will compete the Vuelta a la Comunidad Valenciana with a quite strong team. Samuel Sánchez will kick off his season at the Valenciana, accompanied by teammates Mikel Astarloza, Joseba Zubeldia. Iván Velasco, Rubén Pérez, Aitor Hernández, Gorka Verdugo and Jon Bru.
Additionally, Saunier Duval-Prodir coaches Joxean Fernández "Matxin" and Sabino Angoitia will also bring an eight-strong team to the event. The Spanish ProTour-registered team will send David Millar, Raúl Alarcón, Iker Camaño, Juanjo Cobo, David de la Fuente, Luciano Pagliarini, Christophe Rinero, and Alberto Fernández de la Puebla to contest the event.
Two Aussie teams for Tour of New Zealand
The Trust House Women's Tour of New Zealand has announced not one, but two all-Australian teams will cross the Tasman next month to participate in the five day tour. Cycling Australia coach Warren McDonald will bring both the Australian National and Australian Institute of Sport teams to the land of the long white cloud.
"The event is very well organised and it's a great course with some very tough stages, making it exciting for riders and spectators," said McDonald.
Leading the national team will be Olympic road champion Sara Carrigan, Oceania scratch race champion Tiffany Cromwell, Olivia Gollan, Australian Time Trial Champion Carla Ryan, and up and coming riders Vicki Whitelaw and Louise Kerr.
"Having two top Australian teams here in New Zealand is great for the sport and for our event," said race director Jorge Sandoval. "The Australians are very competitive and always want to do well. They will be formidable opposition to the top Europeans teams as well as our own top New Zealand National team lead by Sarah Ulmer."
The Australian Institute of Sport team will consist of 2003 World Triathlon champion Nikki Egyed, Jenny MacPherson, duel Australian national champion Lorian Graham, former junior world champion Amanda Spratt, Candice Sullivan and Jocelyn Loane.
The event will mark Graham's first international appearance since being injured in the horrific German training accident which claimed the life of former teammate Amy Gillett in 2005.
The Trust House Women's Tour of New Zealand gets underway on Wednesday March 7, with a criterium around the Avalon, Lower Hutt circuit. Thursday's stage two takes the riders from Martinborough to Masterton, followed by mountain stages on Friday and Saturday. The tour heads to Wellington on Sunday for the fifth stage time trial around the Miramar Peninsula followed by the final stage - a criterium at the bottom of Lambton Quay in Wellington.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2007)