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Latest Cycling News for January 11, 2007

Edited by Gregor Brown

Floyd Landis speaks at town-hall style meeting

By Sue George

Floyd Landis speaking publicly
Photo ©: Anthony Tan
(Click for larger image)

On Wednesday evening at the Arlington, Virginia, Cinema N Drafthouse in the suburbs of Washington DC, Floyd Landis met cycling fans in an intimate, town-hall style gathering. His goals were to raise money for the recently launched Floyd Fairness Fund (FFF) and to enable local members of the cycling community to directly interact with him.

Landis spoke to an audience of about 130 people for less than ten minutes before he fielded questions from attendees, most of whom were members of the local cycling community. The event was not publicized to the media in advance, but word spread quickly through the cycling community.

Landis' spokesperson, Michael Henson, who also briefly addressed the audience along with pro bono FFF fund chairman Brian Rafferty, said this was Landis' first gathering of this type. "It's a grass roots effort to put Floyd in front of his fans and supporters and those who don't know what to make of his situation," said Henson to Cyclingnews. "We feel the town hall style fits Floyd because here people can ask questions and he can answer honestly." Henson speculated that more gatherings of this type could occur elsewhere.

"We want to hear what people have to say. Part of what we're looking to do here is to bring a greater sense of democracy to the sport and the process," said Henson referring to what events have followed Landis' positive doping test, "therefore, it's appropriate to have it in DC."

Questions ranged from specific details about his case to what riders in the peloton discuss during races to his future plans. Landis confirmed his intentions to race the Leadville 100 mountain bike race even after Lance Armstrong's recent withdrawal.

While on the subject of endurance racing, Landis received an invitation to add another off-road 100 miler, Virginia's Shenandoah Mountain 100, to his calendar. He did not rule out the possibility, telling race promoter Chris Scott diplomatically that he'd have to check his schedule before joking, "I'd like to come, but I don't have to race if it's raining, right?"

When it comes to mountain biking, Landis admitted he has done very little until recently; however, since his hip surgery, he has been reacquainting himself with off-road riding. For years, mountain bike racing was off limits; he feared the consequences of having to suddenly step off the bike onto his injured leg.

One audience member asked Landis if he'd rather have been tied to Operación Puerto or be dealing with his current situation after testing positive for testosterone following his stage 17 Tour de France win on his way to an overall win [a final decision determining the race's overall winner by organizers is still pending - ed.] Landis quipped, "Would I rather lose an arm or a leg?" Several times throughout the night, he and his legal team expressed their belief in the unfairness of the current doping process and what was described as its guilty until proven innocent approach.

A silent auction and a raffle raised money for the Floyd Fairness Fund. One signed bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey went for $350 while a jersey auctioned for $700. All total, the evening raised about $5,000 to $6,000 as estimated by the evening's volunteer moderator and local cyclist Scott Scudamore.

The gig came about through family connections between the chairman of the FFF and a local member of the cycling community. Reportedly, Landis was also in town to speak to congressional staff about the process he is now undergoing.

The fallen 2006 Tour de France winner is likely to continue public appearances to state his case, but eventually his time in an official court will come. Later this spring or early summer, he will appear before the American Arbitration Association for a hearing. No date is set yet.

Cyclingnews' coverage of the Floyd Landis case

May 29, 2009 - French authorities summon Landis and Baker
September 28, 2008 - Landis takes case to US federal court
September 10, 2008 - Landis signing with current Health Net-Maxxis team for 2009
July 1, 2008 - CAS delivers final blow to Landis legal challenge
June 30, 2008 - Landis loses final appeal
June 28, 2008 - Landis decision due Monday
March 12, 2008 - Landis' judgment day nears
October 21, 2007 - Landis files appeal with CAS
October 18, 2007 - AFLD takes another look at Landis case
Thursday, October 11 - Landis continues fight, appeals to CAS
Saturday, September 22 - UCI officially names Pereiro 2006 Tour champion, Landis case raises issues
Friday, September 21 - Landis' appeal denied, two year suspension levied

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of the Floyd Landis case

Alessandro Petacchi in Qatar

Lo Spezzino recovered

Petacchi (r) at presentation
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

The first time we will see Alessandro Petacchi race in 2007 will be at the sixth Tour of Qatar, in 17 days. It will also be the season debut of Belgian-rival Tom Boonen, hence, the first Petacchi-Boonen duel of 2007.

"I have never started so soon, and I have never been in Qatar," said the 33 year-old sprinter of Milram to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "We will have to remain concentred; I expect lots of wind and fast tempo."

Alessandro was presented with his Milram teammates yesterday in Bremen, Germany. Along side Petacchi for 2007 will once again be the legendary sprinter, Erik Zabel, and new signing, Australian Brett Lancaster.

"I am content with the feelings I have now," continued Petacchi, wanting to put the injury riddled 2006 season behind him. "I have been going well in training [up to six hours a day - ed.], and I am more or less at the same level of the past years for mid-January. And I think that the problems linked to the knee fracture [of the 2006 Giro - ed.] have passed."

This last weekend La Gazzetta dello Sport had an interview with retired sprint king, Mario Cipollini. The Toscano complimented Petacchi's progress but questioned whether he should have made a come back so soon, by returning in the 2006 Vuelta a España.

"I appreciated his words," Petacchi kindly noted of the article that he had read. "I am convinced that I made the right decision last year. On the contrary, to race the Vuelta served as part of my rehabilitation, which in training I was not able to accomplish."

Now we can look forward to seeing Petacchi back racing in Qatar. "It does not interest me, and I am not thinking about it," he summarized, regarding the possibility of a sprint duel with Boonen.

Milram confirm Tour Down Under roster

Italian-German team Milram has confirmed its roster for the 2007 Tour Down Under, the first major appointment for many ProTour teams. There will be a team of eight riders contesting the six-day race, starting on 16 January.

The riders: Brett Lancaster, Dennis Haueisen, Sebastian Schwager, Martin Müller, Mirco Lorenzetto, Elia Rigotto, Sebastian Siedler and Niki Terpstra.

The eight men will be directed by Bergamasco Vittorio Algeri.

The 2007 Tour Down Under will be held January 16 – 21, 2007. For further information please visit the official website at www.tourdownunder.com.au.

Aldag: "The German races"

By Susan Westemeyer

It's a sure sign that things have changed at Team T-Mobile, when the sports directors answer to the question of the most important races of the year is "the German races." Rolf Aldag listed not only the Deutschland Tour and the Hamburg Cyclassics, but "also the smaller stage races like the Niedersachsen Rundfahrt," and a few others, even, before mentioning, almost as an afterthought, the Tour de France.

Aldag is with his team on the island of Mallorca for the training camp. The team's new beginning includes changes there, too. "There are many new possibilities. Every rider gets an individual training plan every day. We didn't have that in the past," he told www.t-mobile-team.com.

He doesn't expect the youngsters on the team to go out and win every race this season. "I expect commitment and a competitive spirit, good fitness and the readiness of every rider to give his best. Of course we also want to be successful and bring in a few wins. But we will give the team the necessary time to develop." For example, youngster Gerald Ciolek "will have the chance to start in Milan-Sanremo. But only to gather experience and to learn."

T-Mobile's "new beginning" was brought about by the doping scandals of 2006. "Sometimes you need a difficult situation in order to see things clearly, to change things and to start over again. Operación Puerto was that kind of situation," Aldag noted. "The happenings over the summer were an earthquake, a disaster. Cycling is starting from nothing. The time has come for a new beginning. Now we're going in the right direction."

2007 - Nibali's Year

Vincenzo Nibali in Plouay
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Italian Vincenzo Nibali of Liquigas has been selected as one to watch for 2007 by Italian magazine Sportweek. In its late December issue the magazine selected different up and coming athletes from various sports as ones to watch for this year.

Along with 22 year-old Nibali, 10 young football players were selected, high jumper Andrey Silnov, swimmer Emily Seebohm, basketball player Greg Oden and Formula 1 pilot Heikki Kovalainen.

"He has lots of athletic qualities, courageous and the personality to strike out in a one-day race or stage race," said Sportweek of the Siciliano.

In only his second season as a professional, neo-pro with Fassa Bortolo, he took a stage of the Settimana Ciclista in March and then really put his name in the lights with the GP Ouest France-Plouay victory.

"This year, I found the right condition between San Sebastian where I came in the first group and the Tour of Benelux where I was 3rd. I came back to Plouay with the intention of doing well, but honestly I thought I was too young to win a ProTour race ahead of such great riders," said Nibali after his late-August ProTour victory in Plouay.

Oscar Freire is optimistic

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Oscar Freire talks
Photo ©: Bert Geerts
(Click for larger image)

Spanish sprinter Oscar Freire, three-time world champion, appeared yesterday in Utrecht, Holland, when Rabobank was officially presented, and expressed his desire to surpass the injuries that suppressed him in 2006 and to return to conquer the rainbow jersey. At 30 years-old, Freire will back for the Challenge de Mallorca next February, once over his injury.

"I am better with regards to the injury. ... Now, I am better than before and I have begun training. I hope to be prepared for the spring classics, because I hope to spend 2007 without any problems. In this sense, I am optimistic, because I believe that all will go well for me," the Spanish Rabobank leader said.

Freire stated his main aims, that is to say, "To try to shine in the classics, to win at least one stage in the Tour [de France] and tackle the world championship. This race [worlds] still makes me dream. I do not know if the Stuttgart circuit will be good for me, but, clearly, I know I will be very motivated. Last time I had to see it on television," Freire clarified.

Freire talked about to the present situation of the cycling and the Operación Puerto . "This subject does not benefit cycling; it is evident. It is necessary to wait for the judicial outcome," he indicated. "The conflicts are always negative and there are no results from the dialog between the diverse world-wide cycling agencies," Freire concluded.

Rabobank through 2012

By Susan Westemeyer

Earlier, Rabobank announced that it has extended its sponsorship of the ProTour cycling team for four years, through 2012, with an annual contribution of approximately €12 million. Piet van Schijndel, a member of the bank's executive board, expanded on his earlier comments and said that "We see the sport of cycling as a gem that can continue to gain luster providing that we give our long-term confidence and commitment."

He also noted that the sponsor is aware of the current problems within cycling. "We are aware of the history of doping within the sport and the considerable discord that exists between the large competition organisers and the international cycling union. We have, however, fortunately seen that the Rabo cycling teams have performed an exemplary role in this field of tension. This can help to restore the image of the sport of cycling." The sponsorship contract addresses both issues, van Schijndel said, without giving details.

The sponsorship helps to increase the bank's image internationally, but the domestic scene is not forgotten. According to the team's press release, "Approximately 80% of the Dutch population is aware of Rabobank's cycling sponsorship and 85% considers it a fitting combination. What's more, 90% of the local member Rabobanks have stated that they would like to continue the cycling sponsorship." This was the decisive factor in the bank's decision, van Schijndel concluded.

Colin Willcock passes

It is with much sadness to inform you that Colin Willcock, newspaper and cycling journalist, as well as president and founder of the Dave Rayner Fund, has passed away on Saturday, January 6. He was founder of the Dave Rayner fund, supporting young British riders racing abroad, some 11 years ago and played ain integral part in its success.

Funeral services will take place 12.00, Monday, January 15, at Saint John's Church Church Street Cleckheaton. This will be followed by a wake at Whitcliffe Hotel (formerly the Prospect Hotel). Family members have requested that donations in Colin's memory should be to the Dave Rayner Fund. Please send to the Funeral Director:

Michael A Wright & Son
The Cleckheaton Funeral Home
Fairfield Street
Cleckheaton
BD19 3TX, England

Kingsnorth International Wheelers

UK registered club Kingsnorth International Wheelers are inviting riders to join them this year at their Belgian base. The team, which is run by Gent cycling stalwart Staf Boone, has helped launch the careers of several top riders including Kirk O'Bee, Dean Downing and Gordon Macauley.

You can obtain further information by contacting the team via their website: www.ruxleycycles.co.uk/kingsnorth

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2007)

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