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First Edition Cycling News for January 10, 2007

Edited by Greg Johnson & Ben Abrahams

UCI take ProTour issue to European Commission

By Shane Stokes

Blue skies ahead for the Grand Tours-UCI relationship? Not likely...
Photo ©: Unipublic
(Click for larger image)

With no end in sight to the clash between the UCI and the organisers of the three Grand Tours, the governing body announced on Tuesday that it is to make a formal complaint about the matter to the European Commission. The two have been at loggerheads over the ProTour, with the Grand Tour organisers announcing on December 12th that they were taking their events out of the series and introducing their own selection criteria for races such as the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España.

At the time their joint statement rejected the ProTour on the grounds that they considered the series too restrictive. "All attempts at reconciliation with the Union Cycliste Internationale have ended due to the refusal of the latter to return to an open sporting model," said the press release. "Not wishing to see their events being part of a closed system called the 'UCI ProTour', RCS Sport, ASO and Unipublic, organisers of the three Grand Tours, had to define the conditions of participation, as from 2007, with their principal events."

The UCI has now retaliated with its own accusations of a restrictive system, stating that it will take action. "The UCI has today decided to prepare a formal complaint to the European Commission concerning the anti-competitive conduct of the organizers of the Grand Tours," said its release.

"The organizers of the Grand Tours have acted as a cartel in order to protect their own dominant position in the field of professional road cycling. In particular the organizers of the Grand Tours have deliberately tried to undermine the development of the UCI ProTour.

"This conduct is detrimental to the interest of teams, riders and the wider development of cycling in Europe and in the world as a whole."

The release stated that all attempts to negotiate had failed. "The UCI has repeatedly tried to engage the organizers of the Grand Tours in a constructive dialogue; however they have refused to cooperate in any meaningful way, leaving the UCI with no alternative other than to seek intervention by the European Commission in this matter."

The move will be seen by some as a counter-suit, of sorts, given that the association of race organizers (AIOCC) announced on November 24th that it would seek a hearing before the Commission. Ironically, the Grand Tour organisers, who are apart of this group, also spoke of a closed system, singling out the ProTour as something they said was restrictive.

At the time, UCI President Pat McQuaid told L'Equipe that the UCI were confident that an arbitration court would see things their way. "We are absolutely trustful of our vision of the ProTour and believe there is no obstruction [of fairness]. We are ready to provide the authorities of the European Commission with all the details and information which they will need. Obviously, we will comply with any decisions that are made, but we calmly await the decision."

One of the four mail roles listed on the European Commission website is: "to negotiate international agreements, mainly those relating to trade and cooperation."

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split

October 4, 2008 - New ASO chief to maintain values
September 26, 2008 - UCI declares peace, appoints new VP
August 30, 2008 - UCI re-signs five ProTour races
August 22, 2008 - ProTour: Bouncing back or lame duck?
August 19, 2008 - Stapleton analyses 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - Feedback on 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - UCI announces 'world calendar'

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split

Davis to Discovery Channel?

Allan Davis:
Photo ©: John Flynn
Click for larger image

Australian sprinter Allan Davis is set to announce a new professional contract next week, rumoured to be with the Discovery Channel team, according to Melbourne-based newspaper The Age. The 26 year-old from Bundaberg, Queensland has hardly raced since June after his Liberty Seguros team were denied a start in the Tour de France following Operacion Puerto.

Davis' case was officially closed by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority last month leaving him free to negotiate a new contract. "I'm not going to change my way of thinking, I'm going to keep knuckling down and taking it on the chin - it's just made me stronger mentally," he said. "Crying over spilt milk isn't going to change anything, I just had to weather the storm and the storm has passed. I'm now just hoping to have a really good 2007."

The Queenslander will return to racing at the Australian Open Road Championships in Ballarat on Sunday - his first race over 100km since returning from Europe. "Basically I'm by myself, it's a different race to other races throughout the year when you have eight team-mates who can get on the front and bring back a [break]," he said. "A lot of luck will have to fall in your favour for a national title, especially being by yourself. Not having the race legs, you need to make sure the energy is spent in the right spots, so you're there in the last couple of laps with plenty of bikkies left in the barrel."

McEwen unlikely for Australian Championships

Robbie McEwen
Photo ©: CJ Farquharson
(Click for larger image)

Despite being named as a hot favourite for the Australian men's road race in Ballarat on Sunday, Robbie McEwen is unlikely to start according to Cyclingnews sources at the Jayco Bay Classic criterium series gala dinner in Melbourne.

The Queenslander elected to miss the final criterium at Melbourne Docklands after coming down with bronchitis. "The idea at this time of the year is to get better with your training," McEwen said on Sunday. "But if I rest now there's a good chance I'll be better in time for the Tour Down Under."

McEwen was reportedly instrumental in having the race distance shortened to 163.2 km but there has been confusion in recent days over his participation in the event. Cyclingnews has attempted to contact the rider but received no response.

Last year's under 23 winner William Walker is a definite non-starter after flying back to Europe to resume training with Dutch ProTour squad Rabobank.

Liquigas to open season in Qatar

Italian ProTour squad Liquigas will begin their final pre-season training camp in Cecina, Italy tomorrow ahead of the team's first race of 2007, the Tour of Qatar, starting on January 28. Besides training itself, the 30-strong team will discuss medical matters during a meeting with Dr Mario Zorzoli from the UCI.

"We will spend ten important days to cement the understanding between riders and technical staff," said general manager Roberto Amadio. "This is the third meeting, the second one with the whole team, that will let us check the quality of training undertaken by athletes, also with some tests. We will divide the team into three groups and will dedicate special care to the group including Pozzato, Paolini and Chicchi, the riders expected to have a good start to the season."

Following the training camp, the team will head North to Milan for their official presentation on Monday January 22.

Last original Euskaltel-Euskadi rider retires

By Greg Johnson

Euskaltel-Euskadi rider Roberto Laiseka announced his retirement from the sport yesterday at a press conference in Bizkaia, Bilbao, reports EiTB24. The Basque rider explained that his failure to recover from a long-standing knee injury, sustained at last year's Giro d'Italia, is one of the reasons behind his decision.

At 37-yead-old, Laiseka has spent his entire professional career, which spans 12 years, at Euskaltel-Euskadi. Laiseka's career achievements include stage victories in the Vuelta a Espana in 1999 and 2000 as well as the 2001 Tour de France. In more recent years Laiseka claimed the Mountain's Jersey at the 2005 Tour de Suisse.

Laiseka was the sole remaining Euskaltel-Euskadi rider of those that formed the basis of the outfit when it was founded in 1994.

USAC announce Cyclo-cross World Championship Elite Men's selections

Trebon heads the US squad
Photo ©: Frank Bodenmuller
Click for larger image

USA Cycling has announced its Elite Men's automatic and discretionary nominations for the 2007 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships scheduled for January 27-28 in Hooglede-Gits, Belgium. Three athletes met automatic qualification criteria, while three more earned discretionary picks.

The top-three men ranked in the top 50 of the latest UCI standings - Ryan Trebon (Kona), Tim Johnson ( and Barry Wicks (Kona) - all met the first condition with a top-50 international ranking. Trebon also captured a national title at last month's USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships and won the overall Crank Brothers US Gran Prix of Cyclo-cross series. Ranked 19th in the world, Trebon is joined by Johnson and Wicks, who are ranked 31st and 47th respectively, in the squad.

Discretionary picks for the US Elite Men's team include Jonathan Page (Cervelo), Erik Tonkin (Kona) and Tristan Schouten (Trek-Volkswagen). Page and Tonkin have each posted impressive results in Europe this season, with Page scoring a second-place finish at Nordzeecross, a UCI category-two race in Middelekerke, Belgium, last month while Tonkin placing 16th at a similar event also in Belgium. Schouten's success this season was all domestic based with a 15th-place finish at the national championships and several top-ten finishes in UCI-sanctioned races throughout America.

Belgian selection for Cyclo-cross World Cup Nommay

By Brecht Decaluwé

Belgian national cyclo-cross coach Rudy De Bie has announced the ten-man selection for Sunday's World Cup event in Nommay, France. Newly crowned Belgian champion Bart Wellens (Fidea) leads a formidable line-up together with Sven Nys (Rabobank) and world champion Erwin Vervecken (Fidea). Tim Van Nuffel (Stevens Racing Team) has lost his place to in-form Jan Verstraeten (Sunweb).

Van Nuffel didn't start at the Belgian championships due to illness while Verstraeten managed a surprise third place in Otegem on Monday, finishing ahead of big guns like Wellens and Klaas Vantornout (Fidea). Verstraeten also managed to get into the selection earlier this season in Treviso and Pijnacker.

In 2005 the last World Cup race in Nommay was won by Nys ahead of Tom Vannoppen (Sunweb).

Belgian selection for Nommay:

Bart Wellens (Fidea), Sven Nys (Rabobank), Erwin Vervecken (Fidea), Sven Vanthourenhout (Sunweb), David Willemsens (Sunweb), Bart Aernouts (Rabobank), Klaas Vantornout (Fidea), Kevin Pauwels (Fidea), Davy Commeyne (Palmans) and Jan Verstraeten (Sunweb).
Reserves: Tim Van Nuffel and Jan Soetens (Jartazi)

Keisse and Bartko claim Rotterdam six day

Keisse isn't faking
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
Click for larger image

Iljo Keisse and Robert Bartko have won the Rotterdam six day with a brilliant last minute escape in the Madison finale. The night one leaders were challenged throughout the event by the Swiss team of Franco Marvulli and Bruno Risi and Dutchman Danny Stam and his fill-in partner, Italian Marco Villa.

Going into the final night, the three teams were all on the lead lap, with Risi/Marvulli and Keisse/Bartko ahead on points. However, Stam and Villa were just a handful of points away from taking a bonus lap given for each 100 points.

The experienced and astute Villa nearly steered his team to victory, and at the start of the last event, the team was alone on the lead lap. All they had do was to keep the teams of Keisse/ Bartko and Risi/Marvulli from stealing any laps and they would get the win. This would prove to be very difficult indeed.

The two teams took turns attacking the leaders, but even the rivalry between Stam and Risi wasn't enough to keep the Swiss from helping the chase when Keisse and Bartko launched their moves. Laps were taken again and again, but each time, the three teams came out equal.

As the clock ticked down, and the officials started flipping the placards on the lap board, Franco Marvulli launched a 'Hail Mary' attack to try and steal the lap. Had it been successful, this would have put their team on the same lap as Stam/Villa, but far ahead on points to win the six day. But Stam and Villa poured themselves into the chase, holding the Swiss to half a lap until finally, Marvulli relented.

With the laps counting down, and Stam and Villa just minutes from victory, Bartko immediately countered the catch of Risi/Marvulli and just barely got a gap. When he was relieved by Keisse, a tired Danny Stam opened a small gap to the Belgian's wheel. Sensing this weakness, Keisse got out of the saddle and accelerated off the front, gaining a quick quarter lap which Bartko then extended.

Before the lap board was empty, Keisse and Bartko had taken the lap to get back onto the lead lap with Stam and Villa, and the final sprint, which Keisse easily won, was just icing on the cake for the man who had been deprived of glory after the horrific death of Galvez in Gent.

Behind these three teams, the brave partner of Isaac Galvez, Juan Llaneras, overcame his grief and regained his passion for racing. Partnered with the cheerful German, Andreas Beikirch, the team challenged for the lead, winning the night four Madison. But the pair ultimately lost laps to the leading three teams on points, and finished fourth.

Ijima fears "dangerous" rivals in Jelajah Malaysia

Makoto Iijima (centre)
Photo ©: Jean-François Quénet
(Click for larger image) Top three after day one. (L-R) Kai Tsun Lam, winner Makoto Iijima and Mehdi Sorahbi.

Jelajah Malaysia leader Makoto Ijima has said he fears the leader's jersey will only remain in his grasps for a short time, as the event enters the hilly stages today.

"For me, it will be okay if a teammate takes the jersey, but I see the Iranians and Hong Kong teams looking quite dangerous," Ijima told the New Straits Times. "They've not done too much, but our team is also still in quite good shape."

The Asian Games silver medallist's biggest threat is Games gold medallist Kam Po Wong. At just over two-minutes behind, the 32-year-old Wong is more than capable of taking victory with four stages remaining. "Also the Malaysians, we have to watch, because they are always training in the mountains," said Ijima.

Giant Asia's Hossein Askari and Asian Champion Mehdi Sohrabi are two other names being murmured as threats to the leader's jersey, with both within 65-seconds range of Ijima.

USAC development team goes to camp

USA Cycling's National Development Team will hold a training camp in Salt Lake City, Utah on January 16-20. The 18 riders, all 25 and under, will take part in several testing and instructional activities, anti-doping seminars, baseline medical evaluations, sponsor presentations and training rides.

The cyclists will undergo fitness and power testing procedures as apart of scientific and medical testing to be carried out at The Othorpedic Specialty Hospital. In addition to gathering baseline medical information on the athletes, tests will be conducted to measure the riders' anaerobic capacity and lactate levels.

"This training camp will provide our athletes with a phenomenal opportunity to work with a world-class staff in a facility that is second-to-none," said Jim Miller, USA Cycling director of endurance programs. "The activities scheduled at TOSH will provide us with valuable information on each athlete - a key component to developing young riders."

The riders, who collectively make up the VMG Racing squad, will commence their season at the Tour of the Bahamas on February 3-4.

Riders attending the training camp are:

John Devine, Brent Bookwalter, Chris Stockburger, Tejay Van Garderen, Zack Grabowski, Daniel Holloway, Sheldon Deeny, Chad Beyer, Alex Boyd, Spencer Beamer, Caleb Fairly, Eric Riggs, Scott Stewart, Ben Bradshaw, Peter Salon, Walker Savidge, Bjorn Selander and Kevin Soller.

Plowman Craven-Evans Cycles Racing Team announce '07 arrangements

Evans Cycles, the UK's largest specialist cycle retailer, is to share title sponsorship of successful British cycling team Plowman Craven for the forthcoming 2007 season. The team will now be known as Plowman Craven - Evans Cycles Racing Team.

"We're thrilled to be associated with the Team for 2007", said Ben Hart, Evans Cycles Marketing Manager. "Our involvement is not just about getting the Evans Cycles message out to cycling fans, but it's also our way of supporting some of the best athletes that British road and track cycling has to offer".

The British outfit will also be riding new locally-designed team bikes supplied by Pinnacle, which are sold exclusively at Evans Cycles stores throughout the country. The team has also signed new riders for '07, including former elite circuit series winner and national derny champion, Simon Gaywood. Meanwhile, Malcolm Elliot, 2006 winner of the British Cycling Elite Circuit Race Series, has decided not to continue with the team this year.

Read more about Plowman Craven-Evans Cycles Racing Team announcement here. Or click here for a full list of amateur team announcements.

Cyclingnews reader poll: Best races

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 One-Day Race and Best Stage Race 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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