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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for January 7, 2007

Edited by Hedwig Kröner, with additional help from Susan Westemeyer

Nys against Fidea in Belgium

Belgian Cyclo-Cross Championships held in puddle of mud

By Brecht Decaluwť

Nys, wearing his Belgian champion jacket in Diegem
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwť
(Click for larger image)

The Belgian Cyclo-Cross Championships are likely to end up in a mud battle between current champion Sven Nys (Rabobank) and the Fidea team, featuring world champion Erwin Vervecken and Nys' ultimate rival Bart Wellens. The course in Hamme-Zogge - known from the Bollekescross - was reshaped into a puddle of mud due to recent heavy rain showers. Tim Van Nuffel (Stevens) did a reconnaissance ride on the course and was quoted on Sporza, "back home they wouldnít even put pigs in such a drenched meadow!" National coach Rudy De Bie was more diplomatic, saying, "itís very heavy, but not impossible."

One of the favourites for the national jersey in Belgium is Bart Wellens (Fidea), he reconnoitred the course on Thursday. "This is why I became a cyclo-cross rider: for the rain, the coldness and the mud," Wellens said. "For Tom Boonen this is too much, but not for a real cyclo-cross rider. Itís a good course although I could be set back at three minutes either," Wellens continued. "Itís a fair course so the strongest rider will win here, it wont be someone who follows all day to beat us in the sprint."

Bart Wellens
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
Click for larger image

The battle in front will probably bring about a fight between Sven Nys and Fidea. Bart Wellens was asked about the Fidea team tactics. "We [at Fidea] all want to win the Belgian National Championships, but we will not chase each other into defeat. Still, Vervecken shouldnít expect any presents from me," responded Wellens, making it clear that cyclo-cross is still an individual sport.

One of the dark horses who could sneak away with the jersey is Sven Vanthourenhout (Sunweb), who spent most time on the course in Hamme-Zogge. "This isnít a real present... this is the toughest course weíve seen this season, but itís not over the top," Vanthourenhout said. The mud will force the riders to run a lot which isnít really one of Vanthourenhout's specialities. "I expect myself to battle for the medals," the leader of the new Sunweb-Projob team predicted. Still Vanthourenhout pointed out who he expected to win on Sunday. "After one lap on the course only one question went through my head: Where do you get rid of Vervecken on this course? You canít run away from him," Vanthourenhout commented further.

Another dark horse is Klaas Vantornout (Fidea), although the talented young rider canít seem to regain his good form after a crash in Torhout. Afterwards, Vantornout got ill and currently heís on antibiotics; still Cyclingnews.be expects him to start on Sunday.

Nys, Vervecken and Wellens don't need to fear for Niels Albert (Palmans) - who hurt them all in Loenhout - as the young ace will race in the U23 category where he'll probably get little resistance from Dieter Vanthourenhout and Rob Peeters.

Current world champion Erwin Vervecken and current Belgian champion Sven Nys didnít do a reconnaissance ride. Nys has won almost everything this season and is the biggest favourite for the win on Sunday - a position 'the cannibal' didnít like at all. "I can only lose," he said. "Itís only logical that I win while the others can still rescue their season," he pointed out. "I donít really need that title to make something from my season, although itís always nice to wear a special jersey," Nys said on Sporza. The UCI leader prefers to wear the jersey of Belgian champion instead of that as leader in the UCI rankings. He worked out a solution by planning to wear a jacket with the Belgian colours until right before the start, and getting it back on just behind the finish line.
On Sunday, we will know if Nys will have to keep dealing with that issue in the future.

Top favourites: Sven Nys (Rabobank), Erwin Vervecken (Fidea) and Bart Wellens (Fidea)
Dark horses: Sven Vanthourenhout (Sunweb) and youngsters Bart Aernouts (Rabobank), Klaas Vantornout (Fidea) and Kevin Pauwels (Fidea)

'Floyd Fairness Fund' open

Floyd Landis, once a happy Tour de France winner
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Floyd Landis is now soliciting donations to help him in his defense against doping charges, at the website www.floydfairnessfund.org. The fund, which is organised by Landis' press advisor, Michael Hensen, says that it's three-pronged mission is to "To support Floyd Landis against unsubstantiated doping allegations, to provide the means to attain fairness for Floyd, and to bring justice to those responsible for misconduct in the case."

The fund further says that it "is committed to provide Floyd the professional resources to ensure that science, fact and due process decry the sports bureaucrat's unsubstantiated allegations." The website claims that "Anti-doping organisations and sports bureaucracies have acted with gross misconduct in Floyd's case," and that "The facts of Floyd's case bear witness to these egregious problems in process, analysis and with bureaucrats uninterested in achieving a fair outcome."

"By championing Floyd Landis' case and assisting him to win his fight for a far and just outcome, the Floyd Fairness Fund hopes to leave a legacy of advocacy for athletes' rights to compete in fair and clean sport by advancing best practice standards in anti-doping testing and enforcement." PayPal may be used to further these goals.

New teams for Scarponi and Jaksche?

Two more riders named in Operation Puerto may be on the verge of signing for the 2007 season, according to tuttobiciweb. Italian Michele Scarponi is said to be in advanced negotiations with Team Barloworld, and German JŲrg Jaksche is reportedly considering the Austrian team Volksbank. Both Scarponi and Jaksche rode for Liberty Seguros last year.

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operaciůn Puerto'

May 18, 2009 - Valverde to start Catalunya
May 15, 2009 - Valverde not welcome in Denmark
May 14, 2009 - Spanish federation wants proof in Valverde case
May 13, 2009 - Spanish Olympic Committee defends Valverde
May 12, 2009 - Valverde responds to sanction
May 11, 2009 - Italian tribunal delivers Valverde two-year suspension
May 8, 2009 - Valverde case: Italian Olympic Committee defends Torri
May 7, 2009 - Valverde to take legal action against CONI prosecutor
May 5, 2009 - WADA and Spanish federation join CONI and UCI on Valverde
May 1, 2009 - International Cycling Union joins in on Valverde's hearing in Italy

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of Operaciůn Puerto

Hansen back in Europe

After spending the off-season in Australia, Adam Hansen is back in Europe - and he's not really sure why. The Aussie's glad to be back, "despite the FREEZING cold! Doesn't make much sense to leave a perfectly weathered country to go riding your bike in the freezing cold of Europe," he wrote on his website, www.adamhansen.com. But he is looking forward to the Mallorca training camp of his new team, T-Mobile, and said he wasn't nervous. Not yet, anyway. "I think it's because I'm well prepared."

Europe may be cold, but Australia had its drawbacks, too. It seems that the wildlife isn't always cyclist-friendly. "You see in Australia we have these birds called magpies, and they like to swoop and try and attack cyclist's helmets. It's a common thing here, believe it or not. ... So here I am thinking that I wouldn't get attacked because of our magenta colour and I must admit, with the gloss over the top, it's quite bright, but, no, the other day I had a magpie that wanted a piece of it!"

Hansen wasn't the only pro in Australia, nor was he the only one with magpie problems. He ran into Gerolsteiner's Marcel Strauss in Cairns, and the two took a three-hour training ride together. "He was telling me about a magpie in Mareeba that attacked him. He was impressed by how aggressive it was!" Hansen was pleased to know he wasn't the only one with this experience. "I know some people in Europe wouldn't believe me when I tell this story, but to see a European experience it was ... funny!"

Kolobnev eager to tackle new challenges

Alexandr Kolobnev at the 2005 Tour de Suisse
Photo ©:
Click for larger image

One of the new names on Team CSC this season is Russian rider Alexandr Kolobnev, who joined the team after having been with Rabobank. "I had several offers to consider so I sat down and thought about what I want from a new team. I came to the conclusion that the most important thing for me is a team, where everything isn't centered around just one or two guys, and also for me to get a chance to make results of my own from time to time," said Kolobnev, who will begin his sixth season as a pro this year.

Even though Kolobnev has mostly worked as a helper in his career so far, he has still made good results in races like FlŤche Wallonne, Giro dell'Emilia, the Olympics, GP ZŁrich, Tour de Suisse, Niedersachsen-Rundfahrt, Vuelta a la Comunidad Valenciana as well as in the Tour of Denmark. "I'm probably an all-round rider really, but it depends on the role I'm given in a specific race. It's important for me to define my role prior to a race, but if I'm given more freedom, than I've had so far, I see myself with lots of opportunities. I'm ok uphill, but not on the really long climbs though and if I'm in a small group I'm also pretty decent in a sprint," explained the 25 year-old Russian.

"I'm expecting to make my best results in the one-day races, but maybe also in the shorter stage races. The plan is for me to do Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a EspaŮa this year and I'm really hoping to do good work for the team." Kolobnev didn't really have any favourites as such, but imagined that races like Vattenfall Cyclassics, Giro Di Lombardia could be quite good for him. At the same time, he pointed out, "Team CSC has an objective to do well throughout the entire year and this is also my personal philosophy, so ideally I would like to be fast in all kinds of races."

This is not the first time a contract with team CSC has come up for Kolobnev, who had an offer from Bjarne Riis to join the Danish team, when he turned pro in 2001. "We spoke at the time, but I didn't know what to expect or what to look for. I signed with Acqua & Sapone and was with them for three years [they later changed their name to Domina Vacanze,] and after that I was with Rabobank for two years. But his year Bjarne was interested in signing me again and I was ready to try something new. I've been very impressed with Team CSC - both their results and the team itself so I jumped at the chance," concluded the young Russian.

New UCI Canadian track cycling teams

The Canadian Cycling Association (CCA), in collaboration with Team R.A.C.E. (Race Against Cancer Everywhere) and Symmetrics Pro Cycling have announced that both professional teams have received a UCI track sanction starting January 2007. They are the first two Canadian teams to officially be granted this label.

Former Canadian National Champion in the Womenís Points Race and multiple national medalist in Womenís Pursuit, Keirin and Scratch Race, Julia Bradley will be representing Team R.A.C.E. at international meets in Los Angeles and Manchester. "The Team R.A.C.E. charity movement represents an amazing cause, and Iím very proud to have the opportunity to bring my team to the international track cycling circuit in 2007," said Bradley from her home in Toronto.

As for Symmetrics, the team will be targeting the Olympic selection. "Symmetrics Pro Cycling is very excited to extend its program beyond road into the track cycling world. The primary goal of our track program is in the pursuit of Olympic selection. We have a number of strong riders on the road and it only made sense to extend our program and offer our riders more opportunity to chase the Olympic dream," commented Kevin Cunningham, Symmetrics Pro Cycling Team Director. "Our first step is to begin working toward the Pan Am Championships in May 2007 to establish a benchmark in our performance."

Symmetrics already has one of Canada's top trackies on the squad, points and scratch racer Mandy Poitras - a former silver medallist at the Track Worlds. Svein Tuft, Canadaís top ranked road cyclist will also be putting in some hard time on the track in 2007 after capturing National Championship gold medals in the team pursuit and individual pursuit.

Furthermore, the squad has signed Zach Bell and Anne-Brit Ericksen. Bell who, this past year, nabbed four medals at the National Track Championships in Dieppe, New Brunswick - he won gold in the men's points race, gold as part of the team pursuit, silver in the individual pursuit and silver in the men's scratch race. At the Pan Am Championships this year, Bell took a bronze medal in the pursuit. Riding at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Bell took ninth overall and broke the decade-old pursuit record set by Olympic medalist Brian Walton. Ericksen brings added strength on the womenís side with National Championship gold medals in the 500 metre TT, Womenís sprint and the Keirin.

Pursuiting also a decided goal of the Symmetrics team. With the country's top time triallists on its roster, it has several riders who would excel nationally, and internationally, in the four-kilometre test. With a handful potential individual pursuiters, that also means assembling a team pursuit squad with a real chance of Olympic qualification - something Canada has desperately lacked for several years. Shortly, team management will be considering other Canadian athletes that could round out the team in order to attain its pursuiting goals.

This new status will allow both Symmetrics Pro Cycling and Team R.A.C.E. members to join the UCI World Cup circuit for the remaining 2006-2007 season. Riders will make their debut in Los Angeles January 19-21, followed by the Manchester, England UCI World Cup on February 23-25.

The development of UCI track trade teams is a major new asset for Canada, as riders will now enjoy a new structure, other than the National Team, to fully develop their potential and pursue their professional aspirations in cycling. The growth of professional Canadian track teams will also leverage the need for Canada to get an indoor 250m velodrome, an essential facility to perform at the highest level.

2007 Team Lipton headed by Kristin Armstrong

With 580 days until the beginning of the Olympic Summer Games, Team Lipton has assembled its roster and looks to build on a highly successful 2006 campaign that included a World Championship title, the National Road Championship title, the National Time Trial Championship title, the NRC overall Team title, over 35 wins and nearly 100 podium finishes.

Leading the Team Lipton squad again for 2007 will be Kristin Armstrong, the World Time Trial Champion, current U.S. National Road and Time Trial Champion and 2004 Olympian. The elite roster includes several Olympic hopefuls for the 2008 Beijing Games, and some of Americaís best young riders. Team Lipton will expand its race calendar to prepare for the 2008 Olympics with a race schedule that includes more than 100 events in several countries.

"The team and its athletes are really motivated to use the momentum gained last year to have an even better season this year," said Thomas Liese, director sportif and former Tour de France rider and German national team member. "Weíve assembled a team of women who are on top of their game and who respect one another and work incredibly well together."

For 2007, Armstrong will be headlining a team with five returning riders from the 2006 squad, including Kori Kelly Seehafer, Grace Fleury, Lara (Daily Distraction) Kroepsch, Kristen (Sassy) LaSasso, and Meredith Miller. The squad is made complete with four newcomers, including Lauren Franges, Kim Geist, Brenda Lyons and Nicole Evans. Professional triathlete Rebeccah Wassner and two Ironman triathlon specialists will race an extensive multisport calendar that includes World Cups and the Hawaii Ironman World Championships.

"I couldnít be happier with the team we have for this season," said Kristin Armstrong. "We have a really solid team with the most supportive staff and management."

For the full 2007 Team Lipton roster, click here.

Berasategui to end career

By Monika Prell

After only two seasons as professional cyclist, Antonio Berasategui will quit cycling. The 28 year-old cyclist, born in Araia (Alava), became a pro in 2005 with team Kaiku. He can be seen as another victim of Operaciůn Puerto, as only one of the four Spanish teams that lost their sponsors (Kaiku, Comunitat Valenciana, Astana and 3 Molinos), only one was newly created (Karpin - Galicia).

Berasategui, who started with cycling at the age of ten years in the cycling school of his village, and who won seven races in his time as amateur, commented to the Spanish newspaper El Correo, that "it was something that could happen because of the situation in this little world," and that he has made himself "familiar to this idea for a while already." Further he assumed that he was aware of the fact that Operaciůn Puerto "in a certain way has complicated everything" and that he was "not the only cyclist who has to give up cycling ahead of time."

Cyclingnews readers' poll: Best track riders

Cyclingnews has tallied up all 11,532 votes in the 2006 readers' poll, our biggest ever poll. Today, we have announced the winners of the best female track rider and best male track rider categories. Please have a look at the total results so far.

The winner of the HED Kermesse road wheels will be announced later in the week. Thanks to everyone who voted.

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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti