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Latest Cycling News for January 18, 2007

Edited by Gregor Brown

Tour Down Under: now France has a Champion

By Jean-François Quénet in Hahndorf

The Champion
Photo ©: JF Quenet
(Click for larger image)

A new name on the professional cycling scene has been particularly noticed at the Tour Down Under: Champion, or Dimitri Champion. He's born to be a champion and he actually is a champion. He was crowned French amateur champion for road racing last year and U23 French champion for time trial in 2005. But his way to the pro ranks with Bouygues Telecom hasn't been an easy one.

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He started cycling pretty late, age 18. That was five years ago and he didn't do it under the UCI affiliated French cycling federation but their competitors from FSGT. Quickly he joined the reserve team of Auber 93 but it was too early and he raced at the highest amateur level straight away. He even quit cycling at 20 after the death of his father. When he returned to cycling, he wasn't picked by the best clubs. Although he had won the national title for time trial, the French federation didn't select him for the World's in Madrid, presuming that Florian Morizot and Jérôme Coppel had a brighter future ahead.

He was physically ready to turn pro one year ago. But he wasn't on the supposed right track until he joined Vendée U, which is Bouygues Telecom's feeder team. There again, he was their best rider by far but he wasn't a first choice for turning pro before he won the national road title in Vendée on the team's home soil.

How does he feel to be a pro now? "Nothing special, I only made it one step forward," he answered in his chilly professional way. This neo pro is the exact opposite of an excited kid in his new world. Life has taught him to become mentally mature sooner than the average young person. His personality and strong character are probably the explanation for why he has never been a first choice recruit but he has the charisma of a true champion. It's a logical move for him to end up rooming with former world champion Laurent Brochard in Adelaide.

South of Paris, where he lives, he's known as a "Stakhanovist" of the bike. When he admits "I've trained all right," it means he has done more kilometres than anyone else prior to the start of the season. France often complains about their cyclists who don't perform because of a lack of training, Champion isn't one of those. "I came to the Tour Down Under with the intention of getting a result," he said. "It hasn't worked out well yet because I haven't been in the right breakaways, but I'll give a try for a stage win."

It's pretty easy to remember the name of this neo pro... and it's worth it.

Bettini dreams of Flanders

The world champion
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Click for larger image

World champion Paolo Bettini starts his day just like every other normal person, with breakfast. "I am good. I only ate Nutella once. Caffè, orange juice and four pieces of toast with peach jam. If I have to go longer [on the bike] then I will have an omelette," explained the charismatic 32 year-old Italian to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The days are ticking by, leading to the start of the 2007 season. Bettini is with his Quick-Step teammates in Calpe, Spain, but soon he will be in the West, the Tour of California. However, the sunny climates of Spain and California serve their purposes for one of his season's major objectives, the Ronde Van Vlaanderen (or Tour de Flanders).

Il Grillo desperately wants to win one of the few classics missing in his palmarès. He is training specifically for the day while also acknowledging that he has a teammate perfectly suited for the race, Belgian Tom Boonen "Flanders is a race that I am still missing," he explained. "Flanders is like a beautiful woman. So, it is like I am not an example of beauty, and my build is not so adapted to this course. I have to work to come from behind; I have to court her... It is right that Tom [Boonen] will have the full disposition of the team, but I hope to have my say too."

The Ronde Van Vlaanderen may be a race of pride, one to put the palmarès, but there is another race Il Grillo is considering, and it is one for strictly financial gain, Abu Dhabi Race of Champions. "This could really become a cycling's new frontier," he quipped. "It could even become more important than, say, [Giro di] Lombardia. In all of the season, in all of the races we don't take that much [money as the Abu Dhabi race is offering].

Bettini discusses his objectives
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Click for larger image

"We will have to prepare will and go with eight of the strongest riders." Regarding the amount of money on offer, €772,414, Bettini knows it can go to good use at Quick-Step; he added, "In all of this team there are about sixty families to sustain, and that is not small."

If thinking of the Ronde Van Vlaanderen and Abu Dhabi is not enough to occupy the world champion, he spends his time studying. According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Bettini is preparing to become a qualified light aircraft pilot.

"I want to learn to pilot an ultra-light," he noted. "I am studying all of the aviation terms; and what a mess! Then, of the 16 to 20 lessons, three are solo flights. Now, I don't understand much but in a year I hope to know a lot more."

He noted that his knee is fine after a brief scare on Monday, during a long seven-hour training session, totalling 208 kilometres and 3000 metres of climbing. After a day of rest, Bettini returned to train with his teammates (the camp runs through Friday, January 19), thinking of the season's goals.

DNA is "legal non-sense" says ACCPI Colombo

Merckx and Colombo (r)
Photo ©: Sirotti
Click for larger image

Yesterday, Amedeo Colombo, the president of the Italian Professional Riders Association (ACCPI), launched his counterattack on DNA testing in cycling. "It is manipulating and lacks clarity," Colombo charged. "Sporting groups are kicking up cloud of dust about DNA testing. That's a mere waving of hands that only runs the risk of giving riders a bad name." Colombo stated that riders being forced to sign their acceptance of DNA, as first proposed by international Association of Professional Cycling teams (AIGCP) in October, is "legal non-sense."

The testing was proposed in the wake of a turbulent summer that gave cycling to big blows; Operación Puerto and Floyd Landis' positive test in the Tour de France. But Colombo gave his concerns for the riders' legal rights. "We cannot win this battle without respecting rules," the Italian continued.

The ACCPI president drafted a document that riders could attach when signing contracts regarding DNA testing. The document read that "the acceptance signature and consent shall not be considered in any way a generic preventive consent to the transmission of a tissue sample or body fluid" but "a statement of intent that would have to be eventually followed, where requested, in an explicit and clear manner, in terms setup by national and international regulations."

It further stated that "there is a three day expiration date to give or decline their consent, staring from the moment when the rider is directly notified of the request by a juridical or disciplinary authority." And that "this consent could only be given in writing for the specific and determined request [of use]."

Colombo further attempted to have the burden not fully placed on the riders' shoulders. He noted that the team should be held responsible, as well as its riders. "It's time for everybody, and not only for riders, to face their responsibilities," concluded Colombo. "When will the team managers themselves formally pledge to leave if they, unfortunately, are personally involved, or their team, in penal or sporting investigations?"

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

Tour de France 2008 starts in Brittany

By Susan Westemeyer

The Tour de France 2008 will start in Brittany, but will not have a prologue, sources have said. The first stage is to run from Brest to Plumelec on July 5. The next stage is Auray to Saint-Brieuc, with the third stage starting from Saint-Malo.

The stage routes are scheduled to be announced on January 25.

Saunier Duval-Prodir is ready

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Jose Angel Gomez Marchante (Saunier Duval)
Photo ©: Unipublic
(Click for larger image)

Thursday, Saunier Duval-Prodir will be presented in Estepona (Málaga). Director Sportif Joxean Matxin boasted of his star draftee, Iban Mayo, formerly with Euskaltel-Euskadi, "He is superb rider; he is always in the news, if he goes well or if he does badly." Matxin said to EFE, adding that, "Mayo should be a great contribution for Saunier Duval-Prodir, in all senses."

At the same time, Matxin showed his confidence in José Angel Gomez Marchante, "who has taken a jump in quality this [last] year; I believe that he will start to assume more responsibility."

The Basque director hopes to confront the Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a España with the talents of Italian Gilberto Simoni, Scot David Millar, and Spaniards Iban Mayo and Gomez Marchante. The leadership distribution in the grand tours is clear for Matxin, "In the Giro, Simoni and Mayo will be our leaders; in the Tour, the most important one due to its media repercussions, Mayo will be our leader, mainly helped by Gomez Marchante, Koldo Gil and David Millar."

The Saunier Duval-Prodir will count on "a balanced and powerful team, with riders able to succeed in any type of race on the 2007 international calendar." The balance, Matxin emphasized, will be thanks to new other new signings Iker Camaño (ex-Euskaltel), Jesús Del Nero (ex-3 Molinos Resort), Raivis Belohvosciks (ex-Universal Caffè-CB Immobiliare) and Remmert Wielinga (ex-Quick-Step).

A returning young and promising rider is David de la Fuente, who had great success in the 2006 Tour. "He will have freedom to seek opportunities. People know little of him, but he is a high quality rider; one of the best one in the Saunier Duval-Prodir," Matxin proudly noted.

Landis supports anti-doping code revisions

Embattled 2006 Tour de France champion Floyd Landis has supported the release of documentation by the World Anti-Doping Authority (WADA) that revises the anti-doping code, first introduced in 2003.

In a statement issued by the 'Floyd Fairness Fund', an organization set up to help the rider beat a doping charge from the 2006 Tour, Landis said, "It is a positive change in WADA's approach to release to the public these criticisms and calls for rule revisions from organizations ranging from the United States Olympic Committee to a wide range of national sports federations."

The release of the anti-doping code revision (see special report) was the result of more than six months of comments solicited from a list of thousands of 'stakeholders' - governments, sporting organizations, anti-doping authorities and athletes alike.

The call for comments on the code was highly successful, according to WADA director general David Howman, and it received "probably more feedback" on this than it has on any other document.

The Landis camp seized on the WADA release – and a story in a Los Angeles newspaper – as evidence that his positive dope test after stage 17 of the 2006 Tour was flawed. "It is also gratifying to me to know that the heaviest criticism was focused on the exact same test that has unfairly cast doubts on my performance in stage 17 of the Tour de France. First my samples were mishandled and then tested as contaminated. Then, against WADA's own rules they were subject to illegal testing using protocols that are widely acknowledged as scientifically flawed," Landis claimed in the statement.

In her analysis of the WADA revision, Cyclingnews' Editor Laura Weislo noted, "The Floyd Landis case may have highlighted the problems surrounding the 2005 reduction in the testosterone:epitestosterone ratio limit from 6:1 to 4:1. Comments from stakeholders reflect the controversy.

"Denis Oswald, President of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations objected to the current level, stating 'There is no scientific evidence to support the reduction from 6 to 4. It has become a waste of resources in terms of time, money and effort with no apparent benefit. The reduction has produced a dramatic increase in workload and expenses, without revealing any more doping offences.'"

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

Andalucia: No without García Quesada

By Antonio J. Salmerón

The Vuelta a Andalucia organizer, Deporinter, will withdraw the invitation it made to if it comes without Spanish leader and winner of the 2006 edition Carlos García Quesada.

Luis Caves, Vuelta a Andalucía director, expressed that he would be "deceived if came without the best Andalusian rider of the moment," at the same time he stated that he considered his presence "essential."

The Vuelta a Andalucía will be run from February 18 to 22.

Former Navigator Koschara to Sakonnet U25

New York City based CRCA/Sakonnet Technology U25 cycling team announced the addition of Matt Koschara as road manger. During his professional racing career, Koschara is best known for winning the 1995 Wachovia Cycling Series' Trenton Criterium. An event that is known as a sprinters race was won in a brave solo move just ahead of a sprinting peloton.

Koschara raced successfully for both the Navigators Insurance and the Shaklee during his career.

"Matt brings to the team a tremendous breadth of racing experience and we are very glad to have him guiding our young squad," said Sakonnet General Manager Basil Moutsopoulos.

Since retiring from racing in 2000, Koschara has married and has been attending Hunters College in New York City where he is due to graduate after the spring 2007 semester. Matt has kept his ties in cycling over the years by working as a personal coach and is set to make a big impact with the U25 riders on the Sakonnet Team.

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

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