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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for January 16, 2007

Edited by Anthony Tan, Ben Abrahams & Greg Johnson

German investigators plan to compare Ullrich DNA

Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

The Bonn, Germany, prosecutor's office has confirmed earlier reports that it is preparing to do a DNA comparison on bags allegedly containing blood from Jan Ullrich, which were found in the offices of Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes during the Spanish authority's Operación Puerto investigation. "We will have the bags of blood from Spain shortly, that can be next week or the beginning of February," prosecutor Fred Apostel told DPA.

According to press agency sid, Apostel said that his office has already received the underlying documents from Spain and is still waiting for documents from Switzerland and Belgium. The Belgium documents deal with the results of a search of the house of Rudy Pevenage, Ullrich's longtime advisor.

Apostel would not predict when a decision would be made as to whether to close the investigation or open a prosecution. "This kind of international investigation takes time," he said.

A comparison of the blood bag and Ullrich's DNA will go a long way in determining how strong the 1997 Tour de France winner's links to the Spanish investigation are. Ullrich's management were unwilling to comment on the situation, which could either prove the use of performance-enhancing drugs or clear the rider of any wrong-doing.

"Our attorneys are very much aware of the situation and will respond at the appropriate time," said Ullrich's manager Wolfgang Strohband.

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación 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 Operación Puerto

Discovery Channel finalises '07 roster

Steve Cummings and Philip Deignan
Photo ©: JF Quenet
(Click for larger image)

Discovery Channel has announced their final three riders to round out the team's 2007 roster. As well as the addition of Alberto Contador, as mentioned yesterday, Steve Cummings and John Devine will join the American registered ProTour team.

Contador, a talent in the mountains, is expected to ride in support of the team's leaders, namely Ivan Basso at the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France, but will also be given the opportunity to pursue solo wins. Said team manager Johan Bruyneel: "I was fortunate to have the space and the budget to sign a rider of Alberto's calibre. He really impressed me last year and I expect him to do well in this team and win some big races for us."

As a complement to Contador's climbing assets, British rider Steve Cummings arrives at Discovery Channel with a track background and a sprinter's mentality. In a squad known for their Tour de France legacy, the signing of a true sprinter marks an evolution of the team's objectives. "Steve's track background will be an asset to this team and provide us the opportunity to be competitive in races where we have not been in the past-those with a sprint finish. I am sure he will adapt to the road style quickly and prove his worth immediately."

The final edition to the roster will officially arrive in July 2007, when 21 year-old John Devine leaves his place in the US national under-23 (U-23) squad, which spends their training and racing time in Belgium. The mountain biker turned road racer will follow in the footsteps of other US national team graduates like Dave Zabriskie. Bruyneel has watched Devine for a few years and is confident in the youngster's capabilities. "After watching John train and interact with his team-mates during the December training camp, I was even more convinced than before that I made a good choice," said Bruyneel. "He's an unproven talent, but I will allow him time to adapt to racing at the ProTour level and expect him to progress quickly."

The 28-man roster boasts riders from 15 countries and the entire team will officially convene for the first time in late January for a training camp in Southern California.

O'Grady wants ProTour Down Under

By Greg Johnson

Stuart O'Grady (CSC)
Photo ©: Elmar Krings
(Click for larger image)

Australia's Stuart O'Grady has thrown his support behind the UCI's desire to make the ProTour a more international series, saying he believes his home event, the Tour Down Under, would make a great addition to top level of cycling.

"The governing body the UCI want to make the Pro Tour a more global event and I think they have to start looking out of the circle into Australia, Asia and most probably America in the future," the Team CSC rider told the ABC. "So obviously this would be a massive stepping stone for Australian cycling - it would really be the cherry on the cake for this event."

The comments follow UCI President Pat McQuaid's confirmation to Cyclingnews last month that he's currently in discussions with South Australian Premier Mike Rann about the possibility of the event joining the ProTour.

"I have also had a direct request from Mike Rann, who is the premier of South Australia, where the Tour Down Under takes place," McQuaid said. "He wants that to be a ProTour event."

The Australian event, which commences tonight and runs through to Sunday, is one of a number of events currently being considered as a possible addition to the ProTour. Malaysia's Le Tour de Langkawi and America's Tour of California are two other events believes to be under consideration as apart of the UCI's aim of growing the series beyond its current European base.

"I wouldn't say it is a long way away," said McQuaid on the series expansion into other continents. "The initial idea of the ProTour was to assist in the globalisation of the sport, to bring the sport at the highest level into as many markets as is possible. It was natural at the beginning that it could only be done at a European level, letting things develop there initially. Once that was done, we could then see what interest there is in bringing the ProTour to foreign shores."

O'Grady, an Olympic gold medallist, will compete in this year's Tour Down Under with the Team CSC outfit. Over 100 competitors from 14 teams will take part in this year's five-stage event.

Murn badly injured in training accident

Uros Murn (Phonak)
Photo ©: Unipublic
(Click for larger image)

Last Sunday, January 14, Discovery Channel rider Uros Murn was seriously injured while training on the roads near his home in Slovenia, and will be unable to ride for at least three months. The accident occurred when Murn and a training group were struck by a car from behind on a local road between Novo Mesto and Sentjernej.

The car was overtaking another vehicle when it hit the group of cyclists, with Murn and Primoz Segina of Croatian cycling team BK Puris Kamen Pazin rushed to a hospital in the capital of Ljubljana. Murn, the first of the group to be hit by the car, sustained three breaks in the same leg including an open fracture of the femur. He immediately underwent surgery and at last notice, the surgery was successful.

According to Discovery team manager Johan Bruyneel, Murn, seventh at the 2006 world road championships in Salzburg, was scheduled to be a key rider in the team's spring classics campaign. "This is obviously a terrible accident and right now, I am only concerned about his current status and well being," said Bruyneel in a team statement. "We have a large team with many riders who can race in his absence. The difficult thing is finding a rider that has the talent and experience in the classics. The whole team wishes Uros a speedy recovery."

Courtesy Mitja Smid Bricelj

Vuelta a Murcia in doubt

By Antonio J. Salmerón

According to sources close to event organisers, the 2007 Vuelta a Murcia is in doubt following delays in negotiations over broadcasting rights, reports daily newspaper El Faro de Murcia. The event is believed to be one of several Spanish events currently locked in negotiations with TVE National Television over broadcasting rights.

The failure to sign off on a broadcasting deal to date has left a €120,000 deficit in the event's budget, preventing the organisers from investing in the infrastructure required for the 27th running of the event. Should the race go ahead, some of the world's top ProTour teams are hoping to take part in the event, with Discovery Channel, Caisse d'Epargné-Illes Balears, Saunier Duval-Prodir or Lampre-Fondital having already shown interest.

Organisers are expected to make an announcement by week's end as to whether the event, scheduled for March 7-11, will go ahead.

Euskaltel-Euskadi training in Alicante

By Monika Prell

Since last Sunday, all 29 members of the Euskaltel-Euskadi squad have been training in Alfaz de Pí, Spain, with the riders aiming to cover around one thousand kilometers during the week. The team will be divided into four groups with different training intensities depending on the objectives of each rider for the upcoming season.

The riders hoping to be in good form for the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco and the Spring Classics, including Züri Metzgete winner Samuel Sánchez and Mikel Astarloza, trained for five hours over 150km taking in an ascent of the Coll de Rates. Those with an eye on the Tour de France trained at a lower intensity while another group remained in the team hotel for physiological testing. The groups were accompanied by Igor González de Galdeano plus sports directors Xabier Carbayeda, Gorka Gerrikagoitia and Jon Odriozola.

From today, riders will also undergo a series of high intensity tests over four minute periods in order to measure lactate threshold values and determine if each rider is following an effective training program.

Oscar Sevilla: Asking for a chance

Oscar Sevilla has done pleanty of talking,
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
Click for larger image

Any rider named in the Spanish Operacion Puerto investigation will agree that 2006 was a year to forget, and Oscar Sevilla is no different. The Spaniard opened up to Cyclingnews' Hernan Alvarez about the hard times and what is in store.

The name of Oscar Sevilla appeared linked to the famous Operacion Puerto in the middle of last season. From that moment, things went downhill for the Spanish rider, starting with his sacking from Germany's T-Mobile ProTour team and later compounded by a ban against competing professionally.

The doping affair continued and now various cycling federations have allowed Sevilla, in addition to Santiago Botero, Ivan Basso, and some of the others named in the investigation, to compete in 2007. So for Sevilla, the search of a new team is his priority.

Before being named in the Puerto case, the man from Ossa de Montiel was riding well on the road. He won the second stage and the overall classification of Vuelta a Asturias last June.

Sevilla has endured an unusual winter this year. He stayed in his hometown training and waiting for an offer that would keep him in the international peloton. "I'm fine, I'm training," said Sevilla. "I am eager to get something from the future. I'm training, as always. [I'm] doing what I have to do - that is to train and wait for a chance in a team."

For the full interview with Oscare Sevilla click here.

DHL Launches Sprint School

A supporter of youth racing at the Revolution track series in the UK, the DHL Exel Supply Chain has announced another new initiative to support youth track cycling in 2007.

Open to riders who are too young to be eligible for the British Cycling Talent Team, the DHL Sprint School will be open to riders between the ages of 12 and 15 who are accredited with the British Cycling Federation. Every Track League in the country has been approached and asked to nominate four riders per school (two girls and two boys) who they feel would benefit from the sprint schools. The schools will have a sports academy feel with on-track training as well as off-the-bike workshops, which will include subjects such as nutrition, bike maintenance and racing etiquette.

The DHL Sprint School will take place six times throughout 2007 and will culminate in a 'Baby Revolution' at Newport Velodrome in October. The programmes for the schools have been developed with help of Iain Dyer, head sprint coach at the Olympic Development Programme, and will be delivered by British Cycling Talent Team coaches. The aim of the schools is to provide coaching and competitive opportunities for young riders who are not already on the Talent Team.

The Sprint School will be supported and fronted by some of the world's best sprinters; participants in the schools will get the opportunity to meet and learn from the stars such as Craig MacLean and Victoria Pendleton. Craig MacLean will be the face of the Sprint School for the first year and hopes to see more young cyclists going into sprinting rather than endurance events. "Sprinting is such a specific discipline," said MacLean. "I sometimes think it doesn't get as much support as the endurance events, but it is a such a fun part of the sport, getting young riders interested in it from an early age can only help benefit the sport as we head towards a home [Olympic] Games in 2012."

CEO of DHL Exel Supply Chain, Guy Elliott, said: "We hope to attract more young people to the sport and provide them with a fantastic opportunity to learn from our top riders. It would be a wonderful achievement if some of these aspiring young riders are able to kick-start their cycling careers and gain access to the 2012 Olympic development programme through attending the sprint schools this year."

The school will be launched at the Manchester Velodrome at 5pm before the final Revolution of the season on January 20.

Road tragedy claims prominent UK cyclist

An amateur cyclist has died in hospital following a collision with a car in Two Mills, Cheshire on Sunday morning according to reports from BBC News. Mel Vasey, 53, owner of Liverpool bike store Quinns Bike Centre, was out training with Birkenhead North End Cycling Club when he and two others were hit on the busy A540. Danny McDonough, 56, sustained multiple broken bones while Dave Perry escaped without serious injury.

A man has been arrested in connection with the crash and subsequently released on bail charged with causing death by dangerous driving.

Former members of Birkenhead North End Cycling Club include Discovery Channel rider Steve Cummings and Olympian Rachel Heal.

Danielson to host junior's race series, charity event

Discovery Channel rider Tom Danielson, in association with the American Cycling Association, is holding the "Junior Cup Series" of races throughout Colorado this year. It is a series of 10 races in five age divisions for both boys and girls.

To help get the ball rolling and generate some further funding, Danielson is hosting a special fundraising night this Wednesday, January 17, featuring an array of American cycling celeb's and a silent auction of memorabilia. Scheduled to appear include Danielson, MTB legend Ned Overend, Giro d'Italia winner Andy Hampsten, seven-time TdF rider Ron Keifel, as well as 1984 Olympics gold medallists, Alexi Grewal and Connie Carpenter. The night will be hosted by Michael Aisner, the promoter of the Coors Classic.

The event kicks off at 6.30pm at the Boulder Theatre. Tickets are $12 at the door. For further details see Danielson's website.

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