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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for February 28, 2007

Edited by Greg Johnson & Ben Abrahams

Drug testing status clarified at 2007 Tour Of California

By Kirsten Robbins, with additional reporting from Tim Maloney

Riders, promoters, sponsors and more
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

During the press conference after stage six of the 2007 Tour of California, Shawn Hunter, president of event owner AEG Sports, confirmed that testing for EPO had been being carried out this year at the request of the race's title sponsor, the biotechnology firm Amgen.

The company, which is one of the world's largest manufacturers of EPO, had requested that testing take place in the 2006 event, but this request was seemingly overlooked.

UCI president Pat McQuaid also stated in the same press conference, "As it is, AEG and the organizers at the Amgen Tour of California have gone further than the norm that would be required in terms of the testing that has happened at the race this year," McQuaid said.

"The UCI does blood tests at most but not all but most of the major ProTour events. Outside of the ProTour events we don't do as many blood tests. (The Tour Of California) being in its second year would not warrant the blood test to be done.

"The effort it takes to bring the equipment here and the people to administer the test is very expensive. The people who administer the test are specialists and they are trained to read the machines that they bring so it is very expensive," he said. "At the moment (EPO blood testing) has only ever been done in Europe. I would certainly say that as the race progresses in the next year or two and becomes more important and prestigious, blood tests will be a factor that will be introduced."

The EPO (urine) testing for the 2007 Tour of California, is being conducted by the WADA-approved UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory in West Los Angeles, CA, headed by Dr. Don Catlin. But it's understood that this laboratory can also conduct the more sophisticated EPO blood test. The EPO blood test can detect the use of synthetic EPO for up to three weeks after use, whereas the urine test can only detect EPO use within a few days after being administered.

The UCI's medical officer at the Tour of California, Shawn Farrell, said, "Yes the race is doing EPO tests at the Tour of California through urine samples and the tests are all being sent to UCLA (Olympic Analytical Laboratory)".

Farrell continued, "In terms of blood testing, the system I am familiar with is that (the UCI) have a set of people they use from the labs in Switzerland that they send out to various races for blood testing. I don't know that it has anything to do with where they do the actual testing of the samples. It has more to do with the where the actual people are who draw the blood and process it. Up until now they are a very small group of people located in Europe they have sent them to the US on some occasions. It doesn't have anything to do with the lab because the stuff can be tested almost anywhere."

For the full news feature, click here.

Indurain: "Ullrich was one of the greatest"

By Monika Prell

Five-time Tour winner Miguel Indurain has declared that Jan Ullrich "was one of the greatest" according to Spanish newspaper Marca. Indurain also described Ullrich's retirement as a pity but said that the German's career was impeccable.

"He is one of the few of my era who has always been on the podium, even if he failed to win more races," continued the Spaniard. "He began very young at 21 years-old and normally the ideal performance of a cyclist lasts ten years, and he is now 34."

Indurain did not comment on the possible reasons for Ullrich's retirement but affirmed that "when you have been at the highest level, you will have to make a lot of effort to maintain that same level."

3 days of West Flanders ready to grow

By Brecht Decaluwé

The second edition of the 3 days of West Flanders - Johan Museeuw Classics was presented in Bruges, the capital of West Flanders on Tuesday. The 2.1 classified UCI stage race runs semi-concurrently with the Vuelta a Murcia and with some reports indicating the Spanish event was in financial difficulties there were hopes in Belgium of luring more big name riders. However, the Vuelta a Murcia seems to have recovered from its setback meaning that the Belgian race will likely feature a similar start list to last year.

The first Belgian stage race of the season grew out of two local classic races that decided to amalgamate in 1999. Ever since the new race existed it has known famous stage winners such Robbie McEwen, Jaan Kirsipuu, David Millar, Robert Bartko and Niko Eeckhout, who took the final stage and overall title in last year's edition.

In 2006, the Lion of Flanders, Johan Museeuw, connected his name to the race and despite the Belgian's recent doping confessions the collaboration hasn't come to an end. "I'm a man of my word and I wouldn't dream of stepping down as I just love cycling too much; still some people would love to see me walk away from the sport," Museeuw told Cyclingnews.

In addition, Museeuw announced he would organise a kids race for 8 to 11 year-olds about an hour before the finish of the big guns. "We have to work with the youth as within a few years Boonen won't be there anymore. If there's a benefit for us then I'll re-invest it into youth cycling. Museeuw bikes offers 25 bikes for kids without a license so they can get in contact with the sport. I got the idea from the Tour de France where Nestlé does the same," explained Museeuw, who won the race in 1995 in its previous incarnation as the Omloop der Vlaamse Ardennen.

The three-time Paris-Roubaix winner also announced that a big sponsor could be persuaded to invest in the stage race. "The company was a leading sponsor from one of my former teams," hinted Museeuw. "Even though the ProTour is at the verge of collapsing it's important that we keep investing in the sport, and especially in this area."

The organisers have five ProTour teams on their start list with Predictor-Lotto, Quickstep-Innergetic,, T-Mobile and Discovery Channel. American Professional Continental squads Team Slipstream and Navigators will be also be there in West Flanders. To date, the biggest names confirmed to race are Robbie McEwen, Baden Cooke and Belgian champion Niko Eeckhout. The course brings the peloton from Kortrijk on March 9 via the Belgian coast to the typical finale at the village of Ichtegem on March 11.

'Cross world champ visits future host city

Erwin Vervecken recieves Treviso mascot Ciottolino
Photo ©: Treviso 2008
(Click for larger image)

Three time Cyclo-cross World Champion Erwin Vervecken has visited the region that will host next year's World Championships and says he's impressed with the host city. Vervecken visited the Treviso province and Le Bandie lake with his wife Liesbeth as guests of the organising committee behind the 2008 world championships.

"I'm here to discover the 2008 world course and the fascinating Treviso's landscapes where the Worlds will be held," explained Vervecken.

The reigning champion attended a press conference for the event, where he had the opportunity to talk with Renato Longo and Daniele Pontoni.

"I know Pontoni well," Vervecken stated, "as he was one of my strongest opponent for several years. Longo, he is like an icon for all cyclo-cross riders: he won the World Championships five times, and I hope to do the same for sure.

While he wasn't present at the press conference, Vervecken singled out Italian Enrico Franzoi as his largest competitor for next year's world championships - particularly given the home soil advantage.

"The Treviso World Cup stage was a very positive experience for me," Vervecken said. "The course is very nice and I like it so much. I have the dream to win the third title in a row here, I know there will be a lot of spectators, including thousands of Belgian fans. It will be an exciting experience"


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by PR

Kroon: Broken rib? What broken rib?

Team CSC's Karsten Kroon finished 59th in the Tour of California with a broken rib, but it wasn't until the Tuesday after the event that the Dutch rider realised his rib was broken.

"I sat up in bed to sneeze and I almost passed out from the pain. There was no doubt something was wrong and I went straight to the hospital. As it turned out there was a gap of about one centimeter in the fracture," explained Kroon.

The broken rib, which Kroon didn't discover until he returned home to Europe, was the result of a crash in the opening stage of the Tour. Despite undergoing examination, including x-rays, the break went unnoticed.

"They only took pictures of the front, where everything was fine. When I crashed I hit a pole both at the front and the back of my body and apparently the damage was at the back," he added.

Kroon will take a few weeks away from racing and on a home trainer but he is expecting a quick return. It's the second injury Kroon has endured in as many months, after fracturing his wrist earlier in the year.

"I'm hoping to be able to race again in a couple of weeks, even though it'll probably hurt a lot longer than that," said Kroon. "My rib was put back together this morning and I also had some massage and some tape put on, but there's not much else you can do about it."

Botero presented with UNE Orbitel in Bogota

Santiago Botero
Photo ©: Luis Barbosa
(Click for larger image)

Santiago Botero has found a new home with Colombian Continental team UNE Orbitel which held its official presentation in Bogota on Monday evening. The 34 year-old has spent his last 10 seasons in Europe but will now concentrate on domestic racing after being implicated in Operación Puerto as part of the now defunct Phonak team.

"For me it is very important to ride in my home country," said Botero. "I hope win the Tour of Colombia and go to the time trial at the World Championships in Stuttgart this year and I want to be on the podium."

Botero was cleared by the Columbian cycling federation of any involvement in Operación Puerto on November 11 last year. This was due to "lack of evidence" according to Carlos Vargas, president of the federation's disciplinary committee.

The UNE Orbital team of 16 Colombian riders will contest races in both North and South America this season. The team's first race will be the Vuelta al Valle from March 7 to 11.

See the Cyclingnews teams database for the complete team roster.

Courtesy of Luis Barbosa

Fuerteventura-Canarias sign Ortega

By Antonio J. Salmerón

2006 Spanish National Champion Ximo Ortega
Photo ©: Fuerteventura-Canarias
(Click for larger image)

Fuerteventura-Canarias announced the signing of Ximo Ortega to the outfit in conjunction with its launch yesterday. The 2006 Spanish National Champion will make his debut as a professional with the outfit this season under the command of Óscar Guerrero. With the announcement of Ortega's addition to the squad, the team now consists of 18 riders.

In conjunction with the launch Fuerteventura-Canarias also announced a new sponsorship deal with Compac.

Team director Óscar Guerrero emphasized importance of Ortega's signing to the squad. "Ortega reinforces our presence in the sprints," he said.

Guerrero, who had directed to the defunct Kaiku squad in 2005 and 2006, recognised that cycling is in crisis but believes it will bounce back.

"We are finding people that continue being interested in our sport," he observed. "All this demonstrates that we are recovering the lost confidence".

Fuerteventura-Canarias is starting its season at the Vuelta a la Comunidad Valenciana where it is led by David Bernabéu, who is accompanied by Adrián Bonilla, David Muñoz, Javier Cherro, Vicente Ballester, David Belda, Oleg Chuzhda and Dailos Diaz.

"The best opportunity for us will be the fourth and final stage in the Campello climb," Guerrero told Cyclingnews of his team's tactics.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Fuerteventura-Canarias

UIV confirm Six Day dates

The Union Internationale des Vélodromes confirmed dates for all of its six day events for the 2007/2008 season at its annual meeting in Manchester on the weekend. UIV publicly announced the dates for its 13 European Six Day events following the meeting and are as follows (below).

The UIV has also confirmed its Talents Cup in Madison for Under 25 riders will continue as well as the re-election of its president Henrik Elmgreen. The re-elected president will stay on for a further two years, having served at the head of the organisation since 1991.

UIV 2007/2008 Six Day events:

Jun 13-18     Fiorenzuola, Italy
Sep 27-Oct 2  Maastricht, Netherlands*
Oct 22-27     Amsterdam, Netherlands*
Nov 1-6       Dortmund, Germany*
Nov 8-13      Munich, Germany*
Nov 20-25     Ghent, Belgium*
Dec 27-Jan 1  Zurich, Switzerland
Jan 3-8       Rotterdam, Netherlands*
Jan 10-15     Bremen, Germany*
Jan 17-22     Stuttgart, Germany*
Jan 24-29     Berlin, Germany*
Jan 31-Feb 5  Copenhagen, Denmark*
Feb 7-12      Hasselt, Belgium

* denotes rounds of the UIV Under 25 Talents Cup

Laos gets UCI stage race

Cycling in Asia continues to grow following the announcement by event organisers that the first Tour of Laos will run in November of this year. The UCI 2.2 race will be the first international road race held in the Lao People's Democratic Republic, and organisers claim it will be the country's largest sporting event.

The five stage Tour will cover 745km and give cyclists unique access to the notorious Ho Chi Minh trail - made famous by its use in the first and second Indochina wars.

"Invitations will be issued to leading teams from around the world, so that all the Continents will be represented in the field of 120 riders," said a statement from the organisers. "As the Tour is scheduled to end shortly prior to the start of the South East Asia Games (SEA Games), countries eligible for the games will be using the Tour as their final proving ground for their SEA Games teams."

The Tour has the full support Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh's office, along with further support from the provincial and city administrations and the Ministry of Tourism.

Whilst the race route has not yet been finalised, the Tour will be starting from Vientiane, the capital of Laos. The route will then head either north to Luang Prabang or south to Paxse, depending on final discussions with the Government and sponsors.

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