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Latest Cycling News for January 17, 2007

Edited by Gregor Brown

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Lancaster and Sieberg reinforce treno Petacchi

Lancaster in Milram colours
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image) Brett Lancaster rode for the Jayco VIS team in the series but will ride in Europe for Team Milram.

Over the off-season Alessandro Petacchi's Milram squad made two smart signings; German Marcel Sieberg and Australian Brett Lancaster. The idea was to bring in some fresh muscle to the Italian's treno for the sprints to help win battles against the likes of Tom Boonen (Quick-Step) and Robbie McEwen (Predictor-Lotto).

Ale-Jet will still have his trusted compatriots, Fabio Sacchi, Alberto Ongarato and Marco Velo, but the new signings should help control the finale to produce victories. The lead-out train should have Sacchi start from -2.5 kilometres and pull to -1.7, Lancaster to -1.2, Sieberg to -800 metres, Ongarato to -400 and Velo would leave Petacchi at -150 to the line.

Starting last Friday in Donoratico (Livorno), the team, minus Lancaster, who is at the Tour Down Under, has been going through lead-out drills during its training camp. Yesterday, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport, the boys covered a massive 210 kilometres in six hours of riding; ascending the climbs of Vetulonia, Tirli and Sassetta. At the end of the session, Petacchi had the lead-out members do an additional amount of work; behind a car towards La California, the home town of Paolo Bettini.

"I don't want to over-estimate, but I believe I have found two riders who will make the difference," the 33 year-old sprinter said to La Gazzetta dello Sport of the team's new signings, Sieberg (24) and Lancaster (27).

Sieberg in 2006
Photo ©: Bert Geerts
(Click for larger image)

The indications are good for Petacchi, who is ready to test his knee after last year's crash in the Giro d'Italia; He was forced to abandon after a fall with about 50 kilometres left to race in stage 3, which resulted in a fractured left knee-cap.

"The muscles [around the left knee] are not yet as strong as I would like," he explained. "But I have made enormous progress. ... The first challenge will be to see how the leg responds in a sprint at high levels. Certainly I have stressed it to make it recover in such a short amount of time."

Reflecting on his time away from racing, he added, "... There were times when I would arrive home after a three-hour training ride feeling finished. I suffered like a dog. I had to learn to live with the pain and think to pedal more with the left [leg]."

Petacchi has been able to train and recover, leading up to these marathon training sessions in southern Italy. There are only eleven more days to go until he will put his sprint to the test in the Tour of Qatar (January 28 - February 2). "To start with a handicap is difficult, also if the form is there. In my condition you can still lose but in the case of a sprint I will not be left behind; my job is to win."

Paolo Bettini knocks knee

Minor pain but still travelling to California

Bettini looks to California
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
Click for larger image

Monday, World Champion Paolo Bettini, suffered a slight mishap during his team's training camp in Calpe, Spain, when he knocked his left knee against his handlebars. The resulting pain caused a day of forced rest for Il Grillo Livornese, who yesterday skipped the training ride with his Quick-Step teammates.

According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Bettini's knee banged the end of his handlebars after his chain had skipped. The pain is reported as minor and he is still planning on starting the Tour of California, February 18 - 25.

The Belgian team, located in the Alicante region of Spain, will continue their first training camp of the year, finishing this Friday, January 19.

Bettini's knee pain follows similar news for his Italian team-mate earlier this week. Andrea Tonti returned home to Italy, reporting pains in his left knee. The 30 year-old is currently resting at his home in Osimo (Le Marche) for two weeks. Meanwhile, Belgian team-mate, Tom Boonen, is building for the spring classics and will make his season debut in Qatar at the end of this month.

Klöden likes new team and new bikes

By Susan Westemeyer

Andreas Klöden likes his new gear
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Andreas Klöden is on Mallorca island with his new teammates at the Astana team training camp, and he enjoying every minute of it. "I feel very comfortable here in the team!" he wrote on his website, "The whole environment is nice and the team tries to do everything possible for us riders, so that we can totally concentrate on our training."

He had special praise for the new bikes, saying he is "very satisfied. It rides outstandingly and is very stiff, so that I can bring my optimal strength to it.

Klöden calls the new by BMC (the Pro Machine SLC01) "one of the best, if not the best, that I have ever ridden in my career." He was especially impressed with the time-trial bike, which "simply rides well and is a lot of fun. I wish I could use it every day for training."

The team will leave its Mallorca training camp on Thursday to fly to Astana, Kazakhstan, for the team presentation.

Gerolsteiner and anti-doping "It's not what you say, but what you do"

By Susan Westemeyer

Gerolsteiner's Hans-Michael Holczer is outspoken on the subjects of doping and anti-doping, but he has not jumped on the bandwagon of presenting a new and expanded anti-doping program for his team. What is Gerolsteiner doing along those lines?

"We're doing everything we're required to, like the DNA clause in the contracts," director sportif and former rider Udo Bölts told Cyclingnews. "Gerolsteiner is doing just as much as the other teams; we're just not doing it so publicly."

Interviewed at the team presentation Tuesday, Bölts noted that "Gerolsteiner was not involved in Operación Puerto and didn't have any scandals last year. So we're just going to keep on going the way we have been. It's not what you say, it's what you do.

"I think Holczer has said a lot on the subject, and has a very clear position, and the riders know that, too. Meanwhile we are at a point where the riders must know the consequences of a doping case on the entire team; it would be the end of a lot of jobs. A team is a good sized undertaking these days, with nearly 50 employees. Why would someone want to gamble with that?"

T-Mobile: Magenta, red, white and blue?

By Susan Westemeyer

Photo ©: Patrick Reed
(Click for larger image)

Gerolsteiner's Hans-Michael Holczer surprised a number of reporters Tuesday at the team's presentation when he announced that was no question as to which would be the best German ProTour team in 2007: Gerolsteiner, because it is the only German ProTour team. He said that he had learned last Thursday that rival T-Mobile team is not a German team, but an American one.

He based this on the fact that the license holder for the team is High Road Sports, based in the USA and owned by USA citizen, General Manager Bob Stapleton.

Stefan Wagner, T-Mobile spokesman, denied it, telling Cyclingnews, "No, we have a German license." The UCI also continues to list T-Mobile as a German team. The team announced last fall that the license is held by Neue Strassen GmbH, based in Bonn, Germany.

No further chance for Ullrich at T-Mobile

By Susan Westemeyer

T-Mobile doesn't want Jan Ullrich back, no matter what. "That's with or without the DNA test, even if the comparison doesn't show any similarities to the blood bags in Spain," team owner Bob Stapleton told SportBild. Stapleton seemed to believe that there is enough evidence against Ullrich even without the DNA test, saying "We had a look in the Operación Puerto documents." He concluded, "We want to win, but in a way we can proud of."

Wesemann to hang it up after the Olympics

By Susan Westemeyer

Steffen Wesemann is apparently looking to end his career after the 2008 Olympic games in Peking. "I could imagine that after that is the end," he told the press agency dpa. Wesemann transferred to Continental Professional Team Wiesenhof-Felt this year after 13 years by Team Telekom/T-Mobile. "I feel well in my new team, there is a super atmosphere here," he said.

Looking back at his time at the German ProTour team, he said, "All in all it was a very good time, even I was often the 'fifth wheel' on the team as a classics rider." He added that he wanted "to ride fully motivated for another two years. And then I will definitely try to be in Peking."

Phil Liggett on Operación Puerto and ProTour

The voice of cycling,
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image)

Phil Liggett is in Australia for the 2007 Tour Down Under. The TV commentator is recognized by many as the voice of cycling and for his vast knowledge of the sport, which has been cultivated by following 34 editions of the Tour de France.

Perhaps one of the most demanding years of La Grand Boucle was in 2006, when riders were barred from starting the race due their alleged involvement with Eufemiano Fuentes and then the race finale, Floyd Landis casting a shadow over the race with a positive test for elevated testosterone levels. "... Ultimately cycling will pull through," said Liggett in a January 15 article of The Australian.

"We seem to be fighting the enemy within, rather than the real root of the problem," he continued. "The World Anti-Doping Agency and the UCI have handled Operación Puerto investigations extremely badly. They have ridiculed a number of riders and not come up with a single shred of evidence. Now they have even pointed the finger at Alejandro Valverde because of a story in a paper, based... on purely circumstantial links to the Spanish medic, Fuentes. What other sport suspends its riders without a single case being proved beyond reasonable doubt?"

Liggett is following the Tour Down Under, a six-day race that started on Tuesday with the Down Under Classic. The race, in its ninth year, is growing in stature and outside of cycling's new top level, the ProTour. Many ProTour teams are in Australia for the race, but the Englishman has his doubts regarding the new tier that started two years ago.

"I see 2007 as a very rocky year for our sport and while I am not opposed to change, I am opposed to the ProTour," he continued to The Australian. "I feel the ProTour has become a riders' and managers' union and is doing nothing for the future of the sport. The UCI's threat to reduce the grand tours [Tour, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espańa - ed.] is the single biggest threat our sport has faced in years and if they do it, it will be the nail in the coffin of a sport that was born out of the ashes of long-distance suffering ... the very thing that makes our sport so popular will be destroyed.

Liggett questioned the thinking of cycling's governing body. "If the UCI really believes that shortening the grand tours will reduce doping, then they are living a dream," he quipped. "The UCI has already weakened our track sport at Olympic level by doing away with the one kilo time trial and 500-metre races."

44th Trofeo Laigueglia

Tuesday, February 20, will be the 44th Trofeo Laigueglia. There will be 24 teams partaking in the Corsa Ligure, ten of which will be ProTour.

On the start line will be ProTour teams Milram, Lampre-Fondital, who will field 2006 winner Alessandro Ballan, Liquigas, with two-time winner Filippo Pozzato, Cofidis, Française Des Jeux, Rabobank, Saunier Duval-Prodir,, Astana and Ag2R Prévoyance.

The race running takes in the traditional parcours of 183K, with two passes of the Passo del Ginestro (670m) and the Passo del Balestrino (690m). The Balestrino leaves 32 kilometres to the line, which will suit strong riders with a sprint, like Ballan and Pozzato.

See the list of past winners.

Keirin world champions compete at Revolution 16

The sprint line up at the next Revolution event on January 20 will see a head to head clash of keirin world champions in a season finale women's sprint omnium. Elite keirin champion Christin Muche will make the trip to the Manchester velodrome to take on junior keirin world champion Anna Blyth as well as number one British sprinter Victoria Pendleton and up and coming French sprinter Virginie Cueff.

Muche took the Keirin title in Bordeaux last year and has already qualified for the 2007 championships following second place in the Keirin at the Moscow world cup. On that occasion Pendleton got the better of the German champion but the British star won't be complacent at Revolution, "Muche is a strong aggressive rider," commented Pendleton. "She suits the Keirin really well and she takes risks going for gaps and using her strength to get through. I was positioned well in Moscow and was able to go over the top when Muche got trapped on the inside so even though I beat her she is still a formidable opponent.

"My form is good at the moment" she continued. "I've been in an intense strength training block since Moscow so it will be interesting to test my form and get some good competition. I'm really pleased to be back racing in front of the Revolution crowd again so I'm looking forward to the racing."

Pendleton will have her work cut out with the German star but will also face tough opposition from Cueff and her younger team mate, Anna Blyth. Blyth came sixth in the Keirin final in Moscow and has already made huge progress in the elite racing since she took the junior keirin world title last year so will be keen to make her mark on home ground.

The omnium will consist of a 200m time trial, three sprint rounds and a team sprint where Pendleton and Blyth will take on Muche and Cueff. There will only be one winner so the strongest overall will claim glory in a fitting finale to Revolution season 4.

Canadian squad at Los Angeles track world cup

Round three of the UCI Track World Cup will open on Friday, January 19 at the Carson velodrome in Los Angeles, California. Canada's best track cyclists will be represented. For the Los Angeles world cup the national team athletes attending are British Colombia's Gina Grain (points race, scratch race), Travis Smith, Long Beach, CA (sprint, keirin, team sprint), Alberta's Cameron Mackinnon (sprint, team sprint), Alberta's Ryan McKenzie (Madison, scratch race), Quebec's Yannick Morin (team sprint), Quebec's Martin Gilbert (Madison, points race).

"With the technical work that my coach Richard Wooles and I have accomplished on the track, and the numbers that we have seen on my SRM, my expectations for the points race in LA are high," said Gina Grain of Victoria, BC, 2006 silver world championship scratch race medallist and 2006 national champion in the points and scratch race.

"The training has been going phenomenal and my form is coming into the best that I have seen all year."

Among other Canadians racing, Canada's Julia Bradley will have the opportunity to represent Team R.A.C.E. to the international track cycling circuit for the first time in 2007.

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