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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for January 8, 2007

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Euro cross champs: some surprises

Not all of the expected cyclo-cross favourites were able to score their national jerseys on the week-end. The hot battles throughout a mildly-tempered Europe turned out some surprising results, for example in Germany and Belgium. Instead of the presumed fight between title holder Johannes Sickmüller and Malte Urban in Auerbach, Germany, on Sunday, Rene Birkenfeld took the honours in a last-minute sprint. Urban was unlucky, as his chain broke in the very first lap.

In the motherland of cyclo-cross, Belgium, the all-dominating Sven Nys had some trouble on the muddy course and his greatest rival, Bart Wellens, finally got the better of him and re-claimed the jersey he wore in 2004 - mostly because of his good running skills.

The full results of the European national cyclo-cross championships can be found here:

France: Brief results - Elite men, Italy: Full results, report & photos, Belgium: Day 2 - Brief results, Day 1 - Full results, Czech Republic: Full results & photos, Germany: Day 1 - Brief results, Netherlands: Day 1 - Brief results

McQuaid starts cultural polemic

The controversy between the International Cycling Union and some of the European federations has continued over the week-end. On Friday, UCI president Pat McQuaid said the following at a New Year's reception, which was broadcast by Dutch TV program NOS: "There is a clash going on at the moment between two cultures. The Anglo-Saxon culture and what I might call the 'Mafia' Western European culture [meaning Belgium, France, Italy and Spain - ed.]. The Western European culture has to some extent, I won't say condoned doping, but because of their culture in life, the way they deal with everything else in life, they accept certain practices.

"The Anglo-Saxon cultures, which would be the Netherlands, Germany, England, Denmark, are the complete opposite. They have a completely different approach to the doping problem. I feel that it's very important that at the end of the day, the Anglo-Saxon approach wins out. If it doesn't, then the sport is doomed."

On the week-end, Italian cycling federation president Renato Di Rocco replied to the questionable statements. "First of all, I would like to say that I find the French progress against doping very profound and valid," Di Rocco commented. "We will look to follow that example. As to the Anglo-Saxon model cited by McQuaid, we will try to stay away as much as we can from the Australian or the Canadian models - they, too, are Anglo-Saxon."

Valverde not on the move

By Susan Westemeyer

With training camps about to open and the start of the new season in sight, it's no wonder that the rumour mill has started up again. It spit out a big one on Sunday, as Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reported that Caisse d'Epargne's Alejandro Valverde was expected to sign with T-Mobile shortly. The paper claimed that T-Mobile manager Bob Stapleton was in Madrid for the signing, and that he had negotiated an end to Valverde's contract with the Spanish squad.

But the defending ProTour champ won't be wearing magenta this year: T-Mobile spokesman Stefan Wagner denied the transfer and told Cyclingnews: "These are only rumours which are not true."

Caisse d'Epargne for 2007 Tour de France

By Monika Prell

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) will again aim for the Tour de France this year
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Eusebio Unzué, sport director of the Spanish team Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears, has already announced the squad's roster for the 2007 Tour de France. According to Spanish newspaper AS, the management chose the same team as for the Tour last year, with Alejandro Valverde and Oscar Pereiro as leaders. Fellow Spaniards David Arroyo, José Vicente García Acosta and Xabier Zandio, the Russian Vladimir Karpets and the French Florent Brard and Nicolas Portal will make up the strong helper's team for the two.

David Arroyo finished 21st in the general classification of the 2006 Tour de France. José Vicente García Acosta has already won a Tour stage in 2000 and is always good for an attack. Xabier Zandio finished the 2005 Tour as 22nd, and Vladimir Karpets was best young rider in 2004. Florent Brard, winner of the 2006 French road championships, and Nicolas Portal are good allrounders.

Unzué is very happy with his team: "Last year, we only could count on Valverde for three stages. Now, all will have more experience," he commented his choice. After Valverde crashed out of the Tour on stage three with a broken collarbone, the team supported Pereiro in his quest to keep the Yellow Jersey from Floyd Landis - he may still get it back.

However, due to the tragic death of Isaac Gálvez at the Gent Sixday in November last year, one spot on the Tour roster has remained vacant. Three candidates are struggling for the opportunity to participate: José Iván Gutiérrez, Fran Pérez and Luis León Sánchez, the new signing for Caisse d'Epargne.

The overall winner of the ProTour, Valverde will start his season in Mallorca on February 11 before competing the Vuelta a Murcia and the spring classics: Milano-San Remo, Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. After the Tour de Romandie, he will have a break and then participate at the Dauphiné Libéré.

Pereiro will start his season at the Vuelta a Castilla y León, and continue his preparation for the Tour by riding the Tour de Romandie, la Volta a Catalunya and the Dauphiné Libéré.

2007 Team Agritubel presented

The full 2007 Agritubel roster
Photo ©: Daniel Schamps
(Click for larger image)

On Friday, January 5, the French Pro Continental team Agritubel held its official presentation at the Futuroscope, a scientific adventure park in Poitiers. Despite not being in the ProTour, the sqaud has high chances of getting a wildcard invitation for the next Tour de France, especially with the two leaders team manager David Fornès has signed for the upcomign season: Nicolas Jalabert, brother of Laurent, who came from Phonak, and Nicolas Vogondy, new to the outfit from Crédit Agricole. Furthermore, the team achieved a stage win at the "Grande Boucle" last year with Spaniard Juan Miguel Mercado.

Six Spaniards
Photo ©: Daniel Schamps
(Click for larger image)

Further goals for Agritubel, sponsored by a machinery manufacturer for the dairy industry, will be the French Cup series, the French national championships and another invitation to a Grand Tour, the Vuelta a Espana. To that effect, the squad lines up six Spanish riders, including the talented Moise Duenas, who won a stage in the Tour de l'Avenir last year. But Agritubel not only has climbers like Mercado or Duenas on its roster; also sprinters like Hans Dekkers and Mikel Gaztanga make the team a balanced one.

Looking to the future optimistically, the squad partly owned by Bernard Hinault - five times Tour de France winner and now an accomplished farmer in his Bretagne home - also builds on young talent, like the French Benoît Sinner, 2006 European U23 champion, and Romain Feillu, who got second in the 2006 U23 Road World's in Salzburg.

The full Agritubel roster for 2007 reads as follows:

Linas Balciunas (Ltu), Aivaras Baranauskas (Ltu), Emilien-Benoit Berges (Fra), Freddy Bichot (Fra), Manuel Calvente (Spa), Cédric Coutouly (Fra), Hans Dekkers (Nel), Moïse Duenas (Spa), Romain Feillu (Fra), Mikel Gaztanga (Spa), Eduardo Gonzalo (Spa), Cédric Herve (Fra), Nicolas Jalabert (Fra), José-Alberto Martinez (Spa), Juan-Manuel Mercado (Spa), Samuel Plouhinec (Fra), Freddy Ravaleu (Fra), Anthony Ravard (Fra), Denis Robin (Fra), Benoît Salmon (Fra), Benoît Sinner (Fra) and Nicolas Vogondy (Fra).

Directeurs sportifs: Emmanuel Hubert, Denis Leproux and Frédéric Mainguenaud.
Team manager: David Fornès.

Bénéteau ends career

French pro cyclist Walter Bénéteau has decided to quit the professional sport. The contract of the Bouygues Telecom rider, who raced for the various teams directed by Jean René Bernaudeau (Bonjour, Brioches La Boulangère) for the last seven years, was not extended at the end of last year, and the 34 year-old did not find another squad to take him on. Bénéteau won three races during his time as a pro.

Battenkill-Roubaix continues growth

The organizers of the 2007 Battenkill-Roubaix Cycling Race have reported a record registration rate for this year's third annual race, scheduled to take place on April 14, 2007. In little more than two weeks of open registration, the race has attracted more than 500 registered bicycle racers from throughout the US and Canada. The event attracted a total of 250 racers in its inaugural race in 2004, and a total of 550 in 2006. At the current rate, registration is expected to top 900 racers before it closes on April 11, making it one of the largest cycling races in the Northeast US. Racers currently registered hail from throughout the Northeast and Canada, and from as far away as Delaware, Virginia, Minnesota, and South Dakota.

Battenkill-Roubaix, as its name indicates, features both paved and dirt road sections, difficult hill climbs, and exciting passes through the small villages of Salem, Cambridge, and Greenwich, NY where an estimated 2500 spectators were present for the 2006 edition.

The organizers have also announced Elite-level sponsors for this year's event. Trade Manage Capital of Saddle Brook, NJ, has agreed to become the Men's Elite-level sponsor, while Jamis Bicycles of Northvale, NJ, has taken the Women's Elite-level slot.

The race will again benefit the public libraries of Southern Washington County, NY and Farm Team Cycling - a local bicycle racing club for area youth.

For more information please go to

Cyclingnews reader poll: Best road riders

Cyclingnews has tallied up all 11,532 votes in the 2006 readers' poll, our biggest ever survey, and is proud to announce the winners of the best female road rider and best male road 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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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2007)

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