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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for January 4, 2007

Edited by Sue George & Anthony Tan

Indurain on ProTour: "A positive idea"

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Miguel Indurain
Photo: © AFP
Click for larger image

Former Tour de France champion Miguel Indurain was recently interviewed by Spanish newspaper El Ideal, where he was asked about issues on doping and the ProTour. Speaking about what induces a cyclist to take drugs, Indurain said: "It is difficult thing. It can be due to the pressure to obtain good results, but it is necessary to know clearly that this is a sport with rules which must be respected.

"The fight against doping is well organized and those who do not respect the rules are punished. I think that the problems of this sport are based on the fight for power among different cycling stakeholders: national federations, squads, and organizers."

Regarding the ProTour, Indurain believed it to be a positive idea and a natural step to progress the sport. "It [the ProTour] has been designed with the understanding that cycling evolves, although there are people who do not want to admit that cycling changes," he said.

On Spain's lack of success in other sports, Indurain said: "In Belgium and in Spain, there are [a lot of] very good cyclists, but it is very difficult to find new champions in the other sports, like Rafael Nadal in tennis and Fernando Alonso in F1 in Spain. It takes a lot of work and much patience."

Ballerini reflects on 2006

Di Luca for 2007

By Gregor Brown

Nocentini and Ballerini
Photo ę: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Guiding the Squadra Azzurra to the gold medal in the 2006 world championships, Italian national coach Franco Ballerini has reason to be happy. After a year of stress and tension following the 2005 world's disaster in Madrid, the former winner of Paris-Roubaix directed the nine-man national squad in Salzburg to victory, resulting in a win for team leader Paolo Bettini.

Saddened when Bettini lost his brother Sauro in a car crash 10 days after the world's, Ballerini, when asked to select his favorite image of 2006, didn't chose Bettini winning in Salzburg but two weeks later in Como. "In [the Giro di] Lombardia, Bettini in the rainbow jersey and crying as he won for his brother. It was a magical moment," recalled the 42 year-old to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "He won that course without even preparing. His head was not there. I repeat: it was magical."

The moment capped off a winning year for Italian riders, said Ballerini. "We won Sanremo, the Giro, worlds, Lombardia. In the north, we were protagonists. And, at the Tour, [Damiano] Cunego, with the white jersey, showed growth as a rider."

Italy may have won the Giro d'Italia with Ivan Basso but it was not without controversy, his alleged involvement in Operaciˇn Puerto and doctor Eufemiano Fuentes tainting the win. However, with his case shelved for the time being due to lack of evidence, Basso's victory remains.

Danilo Di Luca
Photo ę: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Ballerini sees a need to correct the way such of investigations are handled: "I think that the sporting judges have to act quicker than what is normal. A year for a cyclist is like ten for a regular worker. It needs to be severe but with proof of guilt," he said.

On the 2007 world championships in Stuttgart, Ballerini is already focused, and plans to travel to Germany at the end of February to view the parcours, together with other team personnel and some riders. Naturally, he sees Italy with a chance to keep the gold medal - particularly after the comments from one of Bettini's arch rivals. "On paper it does not look easy; 4,000 meters of climbing, and [Erik] Zabel said to me that he could be competitive only if he was at 110 percent."

It could be another year for Paolo Bettini to lead the Italian team or perhaps The Killer, Danilo Di Luca. Ballerini thinks Di Luca has prepared well for a strong year, like the one he had in 2005. "In 2005, he won everything easily.

"He is a optimistic and has a good impact on the public; he is aggressive and a winner," said Ballerini. "He does not have to give up the classics to try to win a Grand Tour. He can race the Ardennes and then go strong in the Giro [one month later - ed.]. In any case, already at the Vuelta a Espa˝a and world's, it was another Di Luca."

Wielinga signs with Saunier Duval

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Dutchman Remmert Wielinga has reached a contractual agreement with the Saunier Duval-Prodir. His addition means the Spanish squad will be composed of 29 members in 2007.

This year marks 28 year-old Wielinga's seventh season as a professional. In years past, he rode for Nardi (2001-02), Rabobank (2003-05), and Quick.Step (2006).

Zurich Six wraps up

After the final night of competition on Tuesday, Swiss pair of Bruno Risi and Franco Marvulli won the Zurich Six Day. German Robert Bartko and Belgian Iljo Keisse finished second ahead of Germans Guido Fulst and Leif Lampater.

The winners recovered from a spat with a Dutch team of Danny Stam and Jens Mouris on the second-to-last night, during which they finished second, to take the overall.

To see complete results, click here.

Quick.Step to train in Spain

By Antonio J. Salmerˇn

The Belgian Quick.Step team, led by local sprinter Tom Boonen and the Italian world champion Paolo Bettini, will hold their first training camp of the year in Calpe, located in the Alicante region of Spain, from January 8-19.

The 2007 team is composed of 30 riders, including Spaniards Juan Manuel Gßrate and Carlos Barredo, the latter recently signed from Astana (Active Bay).

Riders: Serge Baguet (Bel), Paolo Bettini (Ita), Tom Boonen (Bel), Wilfried Cretskens (Bel), Steven De Jongh (Hol), Addy Engels (Hol), Juan Manuel Garate (Spa), Kevin Hulsmans (Bel), Bram Tankink (Hol), Sebastien Rosseler (Bel), Ivan Santaromita (Ita), Leonardo Scarselli (Ita), Hubert Schwab (Sui), Matteo Tosatto (Ita), Jurgen Van De Walle (Bel), Kevin Van Impe (Bel), CÚdric Vasseur (Fra), Geert Verheyen (Bel), Davide Vigano (Ita), Wouter Weylandt (Bel), Carlos Barredo (Spa), Mauro Facci (Ita), Dmitry Grabovskiy (Ukr), Alessandro Proni (Ita), Kevin Seeldraeyers (Bel), Gert Steegmans (Bel), Andrea Tonti (Ita), Peter Van Petegem (Bel), Giovanni Visconti (Ita), Maarten Wynants (Bel).

Tinkoff confirms second camp

By Gregor Brown

The entire team
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Click for larger image

On Wednesday, Tinkoff Credit Systems general manager Stefano Feltrin confirmed the team's next camp, to be held from January 8 to 24 in Marina di Grosseto, Tuscany. The Italian-Russian squad concluded its first team camp last December, where the staff and 18 riders, including Tyler Hamilton and Salvatore Commesso, gathered in Italy's Rivera Romagnola, in Riccione.

"Following training in Grosseto, we will travel to Roma for the presentation," said Feltrin to Cyclingnews of the team's presentation on January 23.

The team's financial backer, Russian Oleg Tinkov, is expected to join the team again this month in Tuscany, where he owns a home. As in December, the avid cyclist will likely join the riders on their training rides.

Tinkoff Credit Systems will make its 2007 debut in Malaysia, on February 2 at the Tour de Langkawi. The team has yet to confirm the roster for the Asian race.

Riders: Tyler Hamilton (USA), Elio Aggiano (Ita), Pavel Brutt (Rus), Ilya Chernetsky (Rus), Salvatore Commesso (Ita), Daniele Contrini (Ita), Danilo Hondo (Ger), Sergey Klimov (Rus), Mikhail Ignatiev (Rus), Ruggero Marzoli (Ita), Anton Mindlin (Rus), Evgeni Petrov (Rus), Ivan Rovny (Rus), Alexander Serov (Rus), Ricardo Serrano (Spa), Nikolai Trussov (Rus), Steffen Weigold (Ger) and Vasil Kiryienka (Blr)

Team Manager: Omar Piscina

Photography

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Roberto Bettini/www.bettiniphoto.net

Barloworld set to leave for TDU

Team Barloworld is set to depart from Rome, Italy, on January 9, destination Australia. Lead by directeur sportif Alberto Volpi, the team will be participating in the Down Under Classic on January 16 and the Tour Down Under from January 17-21.

Four new additions will be making their race debut for Barloworld in Australia: South African Robert Hunter, young British talent Geraint Thomas, the experienced Fabrizio Guidi and Paolo Longo Borghini. Completing the team will be Diego Caccia, 2006 Peace Race winner Gianpaolo Cheula, sprinter Enrico Degano and James Perry.

Following the conclusion of the Tour Down Under, the team will return to Italy to join their team-mates at the training camp to be held in Castagneto Carducci, Tuscany, from January 31 to February 9.

Davide Vigan˛: Learning from world champions

Vigan˛ reading the latest news
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
Click for larger image

Up and coming rider Davide Vigan˛ recently finished his first full season with one of cycling's powerhouse squads, Quick-Step. The 22 year-old Italian capped off his 2006 season by riding in the services of experienced compatriot Paolo Bettini at the Vuelta a Espa˝a. Gregor Brown of Cyclingnews discovered more about Vigan˛ at the team's training camp in Marina di Bibbona.

Professional since August 2005, Vigan˛ is willing to let his legs speak for themselves while busy trying to learn all he can from his fellow teammates. He does not care to talk of himself unless asked and seemed more concerned with our drive down to the camp (south of Livorno) than his own palmarŔs. "Did you encounter lots of traffic? It can be very bad near Milano," Vigan˛ asked when we first met.

When pressed, the rider from Carate Brianza (north of Milano) opened up. "I am still under my first contract as a pro," he said. "I signed in mid-2005 and have a contract that will run through next year, 2007."

The Belgium-based team is starting to see that Vigan˛ is a valuable commodity. He spent three weeks of the Vuelta a Espa˝a working for Paolo Bettini, who was preparing for the upcoming World Championship. Vigan˛ could often be seen helping his Italian teammate in the finale.

"Completo," is how Vigan˛ describes his riding style. "I am a complete rider. I go well in the sprints, and also on the climbs. I finished the Vuelta this year, and it was good for me after a hard start to the season. I had back pains that were not allowing me to race and it took too long to go away."

To read the complete feature, click here.

Tournant returns for Revolution 16

Tournant at speed.
Photo ©: Nick Rosenthal
Click for larger image

Arnaud Tournant will return to the Revolution track series on January 20 in Manchester. He last appeared at the Revolution 11 in January 2006, where he won the 1 kilometer madison time trial with Craig MacLean. The duo took on the endurance specialists and despite missing the opening handsling, the sprint pair executed a tidy halfway changeover and powered to victory in a time of 57.88 seconds, narrowly missing out on the record held by Cavendish and Clancy.

Tournant will again meet MacLean. Looking forward to the competition, the French sprint star said, "The atmosphere is always very good, and last year we had some fun with the Madison race. Craig is going very well this year, so it will be an interesting challenge to race him in Manchester and a good test before the world championships."

MacLean is riding strongly this year. He took the gold and bronze in the sprint at the Sydney and Moscow world cup and won his weight in wine at the sprint omnium at Revolution 15. The Scottish sprinter will skip the Los Angeles World Cup in order to attend the Revolution on his home turf.

"I had a great start to the season," said MacLean. "I didn't go to Sydney with any expectations and was very pleased to get the gold. The main objective was to qualify in the sprint for the world championships, which I’ve done, so now I can get amongst the action at the final Revolution." MacLean will use the race as preparation for the upcoming Manchester World Cup.

Frenchmen Matthieu Mandard and Michael D'Almeida will join MacLean and Tournant in Manchester.

Honduran team for 2007

The Honduran national cycling team TIGO announced their final roster for 2007. It includes national road champion Armando Orellana and National TIGO - Gatorade points series winner Roman Canales. Also returning to the elite team is Brian Husen, a veteran American Category 1 racer from Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The 2007 Honduran Team will have a strong lineup of time trialists, climbers, and rising young stars. Team Directors Manuel Vela and Reniery Guillen are extremely pleased that they were able to retain all their top talent along with their younger development riders such as George Haimes and William Juarez.

Vela said, "We have increased corporate support because we have demonstrated a commitment to both team development and providing sponsors with tangible results. We have plans to race some NRC events in the US."

For a complete roster, click here.

Christmas Carnivals 'handicapper' responds to local criticism

It is, as Cyclingnews' reporter John Flynn reported last week, one of the most thankless tasks in bike racing, and Rod Morris, the chief 'handicapper' for the 2006/07 Christmas Carnivals series of track racing in Tasmania, has returned serve after receiving a blast from Burnie newspaper, The Advocate.

They take their cycling very seriously on Australia's 'Apple Isle', and as chief handicapper, Morris has the task of allocating positions on the track for all the riders competing in 'wheelraces'. These are 2000 metre (indoor) or 3000 metre (outdoor) events where weekend warriors, wily veterans and promising juniors get to compete against the top, elite-level riders. The latter ride off 'scratch' (which means they ride the full race distance), while other riders, who are older, younger or have lesser credentials, get a 'head-start' on the track, sometimes over 200 metres in front of the 'scratchmen' (see 'What's a wheelrace?').

Therefore, the person responsible for allocating those head-starts means he is rarely going to please all the riders, all the time. And that's what happened this year in Tasmania. In the Advocate, writer Nigel Tapp said, "Some of the marks and heat make ups were never going to create good, competitive racing and when things were turned around at Devonport - surprise, surprise - the racing improved. If people do not believe the backmarkers will get up, or at least be competitive, they will not bother attending the carnivals and that is certainly the decision they made at Devonport. No one comes to see a rider off 250 m plus, but they do to see a firing Ben Kersten, Nathan Clarke, Leigh Howard or Darren Young."

In response, Morris said in a letter, "It is not all about scratchmen winning the major races and the middle-to-front markers simply making up a support cast. If this was the case, the carnivals would attract nothing more than an elite cast of 20 riders."

Further, he said, "In my opinion, Ben Kersten, Nathan Clarke, Leigh Howard and Cameron Meyer were the pick of the scratchmen for the 2006-07 Christmas Carnivals."

Indeed, after the first two days of competition, leading invited rider Ben Kersten told Cyclingnews that he had found the going hard against the fields in the wheelraces, but remained determined to try and bag a win, which he did in Devonport.

(Cyclingnews has published Morris' letter as it helps to explain how these handicaps are allocated to riders of varying ability.)

More 2007 USA teams: California, Texas & Midwest

The Webcor/Alto Velo Elite men's team has announced its line-up for 2007 during which it plans to compete in Northern California/Nevada Cycling Association events and select west coast National Race Calendar events. The team will be led by former Webcor professionals Ted Huang, Dario Falquier and Greg Drake. The team's line up will also include several new faces such as 2006 Northern California Elite TT Champion Matt Morenzoni and visiting Australian rider Jono Coulter.

Team Clif Bar Midwest published their 2007 roster of elite, Chicago-based riders. The second year team will again center its attention on the competitive road cycling circuit in the central Midwest. The program will also continue to uphold and expand the community and environmental initiatives inspired by its title sponsor, Clif Bar & Co., including park clean-up events and a campaign to offset vehicle-emissions with wind energy. The squad's roster will include 11 athletes, including category 2 and 3 riders. Headlining the list of returning riders is Andy Daley, Matt Welch, Brady Gibney, and Cesar Correa.

Team 5 Star Fish recently gathered for their first of two training camps in Paso Robles, California. The newly formed 11 man elite amateur squad stayed at the chateau of a local vineyard for team bonding and endurance riding, among other activities. Several top southern California amateur riders were chosen for the squad including six ranked in the top twelve in the Pro 1, 2 "2006 Socal Cup Cycling Standings". These include Karl Bordine, Peter Anderson, Dan Vinson, Chris DeMarchi, Nate Deibler, and Brandon Gritters. The squad is composed of eight category 1 and three category 2 riders. Director Sportif Justin Beope said the team plans to compete in several National Race Calendar events. Five Star Fish is an expedited processing service for Southern California sport fishermen who return from Mexico with fish that need overnight processing and shipping.

Now in their third year, the Compliance Depot Cycling Team announced their 2007 team, based out of Grapevine, Texas. In their short existence, the Compliance Depot Team has supported some of the top up-and coming-riders in the U.S. raking up two national titles, four national medals, 17 state titles, 21 state medals and over 50 victories on both the road and the track. The team will include women, men, and juniors.

See complete Webcor/Alto Velo, Clif Bar Midwest, Team 5 Star Fish, and Compliance Depot rosters.

Cyclingnews reader poll: Best MTB'ers

Cyclingnews has finally tallied up all 11,532 votes in the the biggest ever reader poll. Today, we announce the winners of the best male and female mountain bike categories. The female mountain biker of the year was far ahead of the pack, but the male mountain biker of the year emerged from a tight two-way battle. The winner of the HED Kermesse road wheels will be announced later in the week. Thanks to everyone who voted.

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