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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for January 27, 2007

Edited by Laura Weislo

Lefevere hits back

By Brecht Decaluwé in Kortrijk

Patrick Lefevere holds 'evidence'
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Patrick Lefevere gave a press conference at a hotel in Kortrijk, Belgium on Friday afternoon to respond to the accusations from the newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws. At the conference, Lefevere read a statement in which he often referred to 'dirt injections', describing the methods of the Belgian newspaper and its journalist Maarten Michielssens.

"The way I have been tackled is inconceivable. A newspaper – worthy of that name – would never use such methods," Lefevere said. One by one, the Quick Step manager refuted the accusations that have been made, emphasizing the damage that they have caused. "Luc Cappelle – I won't bother to describe this man - has been presented wrongly as a close friend. His wife already said that he made those statements on demand of Dedecker [the Belgian Senator], and other media who knew about his statements weighed it and found it all wanting."

"The newspaper used one known fact, which is true but 30 years-old [referring to his admitted use of drugs - ed.], and they attach papers full of nonsense to it without delivering any proof," Lefevere said. Referring to the allegations that he had become addicted to drugs, and had to enter a rehab programme to kick the habit, the 52 year-old said, "I put up a premium of 50,000 euro if someone could show me that centre. One week has passed since then and nobody reacted."

Lefevere showed papers that he claimed were proof that his riders didn't have extremely high hematocrit levels during recent editions of Gent-Wevelgem. "With approval from team doctor Van Mol, I received the results from the UCI tests after those races. I demand the UCI, WADA, … to make everything public." He also blamed the newspaper for not offering him a reasonable chance to reply. "They called me the evening before the publication while they knew I was in a meeting in Switzerland," Lefevere said.

Maarten Michielssens
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The manager claimed his honour and good name were harmed as a result of the coverage of the story in the international media, and has asked his lawyer to protect his rights and prepare a claim. "We're prosecuting the publisher, the newspaper and the journalist as all rules of professional journalism have been violated," Lefevere said.

Lefevere is also suing senator Dedecker, saying, "the man deserves no more attention, he'll get that at court."

As for the reported compensation claim of 50 million euros, Lefevere's lawyer Chris Declerck made clear that this is all provisional as the damage is still being caused. "The provisional amount of 50 million was based on the negotiations that are ongoing for the contracts starting in 2009," Declerck explained. He concluded by asking if the Journalist's board can let this all happen, "Is a journalist paid for the amount of papers he sells or does he get fired for such frivolous journalism?"

The author of the articles, Maarten Michielssens, was present at the conference, and expressed his confidence in the story, his sources and his newspaper. "I stand firm in my shoes," he told Sporza, "My witnesses are anonymous to protect their identity. This is the only way that's possible, with the omerta. [concerning doping in the peloton -ed.]"

Mourey out of 'cross Worlds?

Francis Mourey, one of the dark horses for this year's cyclo-cross World Championships, might not be able to make the start line. According to the Belgian press, the French winner of the World Cup race in Treviso was out to pre-ride the course on Friday when he crashed hard on his face. He was taken to the hospital, and while nothing serious was found, he will remain overnight for observation.

Ullrich spokesman responds to Swiss Olympic statement

Jan Ullrich's spokesman Michael Lang has responded to statements made yesterday from Bernhard Welten, who is conducting Swiss Olympic's investigation of Jan Ullrich. "Mr. Welten's public statements are inconsistent. The Swiss Federation's zig-zag course in the last few months is unbearable and is doing considerable damage to Jan Ullrich," Lang told Cyclingnews.

Welten noted that the progress of his case depends on the outcome of criminal cases against Ullrich in Spain and Germany.

"What is right, is this: Mr. Welten is not in the position to open a proceeding; for one thing, his institution has no jurisdiction, and for another, he has no evidence against Jan Ullrich. Welten's strange announcements present a misleading view of the facts and the legal position." According to Lang. "Especially in view of the responsibility, that he has in his professional duties, one should expect more sensitivity in order to avoid damaging the personal rights of Jan Ullrich."

Lang concluded, "We assume that Mr. Welten will shortly make public the end of his investigations."

LeBlanc helps present Euskaltel Euskadi

By Monika Prell

Jean Marie Leblanc
Photo ©: Christine Grein
(Click for larger image)

The Team Euskaltel Euskadi was presented on Wednesday evening in Bilbao, under the slogan "Talde hau ere zuretzat da - Este equipo también es para ti" (This team is also for you). The 29 members of the team, staff, were joined by guests such as Jean Marie Leblanc, former Tour de France director, Abraham Olano, and Álvaro González de Galdeano, director of the team Orbea. The attendees were welcomed by two "bertsolariak" (basque singers) with a traditional Basque song.

Miguel Madariaga, the general manager of team, said that the goal for 2007 will be "working like a team, acting like a team and exciting the fans, because that way victories will come." José Antonio Ardanza, the president of the company Euskaltel, honoured the team as "a new project that adapts itself to the times. We are a team in which everybody is working for everybody", an important thing to Haimar Zubeldia, one of the leaders of the team, who considered this as "perhaps the thing we had forgotten during the past few years".

Ardanza thanked Leblanc for "having opened the doors of the Tour de France to Euskaltel since 2001." Juan José Ibarretxe, the president of the Basque government, thanked Leblanc saying, "The Basque country needs the Tour." Leblanc for his part recognized that he always had a "special affection for the Basque team" and marked it as "an exemplary team."

Another honoree was Roberto Laiseka, who had to end his career after thirteen years with Euskaltel due to a bad fall in the Giro d'Italia. He recommended warmly that fans should "continue supporting Euskaltel 100 %!"

The team, whose changes are not only noticeable from inside, has changed the colour of its clothes for the first time in many years. The jersey that is still orange, but a little brighter, shorts will have black instead of blue accents. The new scheme appealed to Samuel Sánchez, one of the leaders of the team. He defines the changes in the team as "rejuvenation" and "changes in the clothes, the directors and the cyclists."

Samuel Sánchez
Photo ©: Christine Grein
(Click for larger image)

Sánchez had an outstanding 2006 season, and is looking forward to "being in great competing form almost all the year, primarily in the first and the last part of the season, the spring classics, the Vuelta a España, the world championship and the classics at the end of the year."

By contrast, the other leader, Haimar Zubeldia, will focus on the Tour de France. He hopes to be in form at the Tour de Romandie and the Dauphiné Libéré for "driving confidently the Tour."

Igor Antón, one of the team's big hopes for the future, explained that the personnel changes brought along a "rigorous work, that could be difficult from time to time, but that will surely bring rewards." He hopes to "improve this year and to be able to take a step forward". He gives himself "one or two years time" but likes when "the fans demand something of you".

The young riders Unai Urribarri and Rubén Pérez, both first year professionals in 2006, hope "to improve ourselves and to reach something more than last year." Lander Aperribay himself has not come this far yet. The 24- year-old neo-pro resolved to try "to follow the rhythm of the team and to fulfill the expectations." He considers the team "phenomenal and very familial."

For Jon Bru, a new arrival from the team Kaiku, the situation is different. "The team is twice as big as Kaiku. There we were 15, here we are 30. It's crazy." His goals are "to get to know the Pro Tour races and to help Samuel Sánchez in the classics." A bit of good news came to the team on Thursday evening - the new signing Dionisio Galparsoro has been operated successfully on his right knee after a long period of pain and will presumably restart his training one week after.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Christine Grein/

Cofidis: A new jersey for its 11th anniversary

By Hedwig Kröner

David Moncoutie
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

French team Cofidis will celebrate its 11th anniversary in the pro ranks this year: the team formerly directed by Cyrille Guimard started out in 1997. For this year, the team's management decided to radically change the squad's outfit and made it public during the team's presentation in Paris on Thursday, January 25.

The new jersey will be predominantly red in front, and red/white in the back, which will make Cofidis' riders easily recognisable as these colours had disappeared from the peloton since Brioches La Boulangère became Bouygues, and Saeco turned into Lampre. And the new look is not the only change within the team, which is now directed by Eric Boyer:

For 2007, the roster has been modified in view of the Spring Classics, with one name immediately sticking out of the list of 30 riders: Nick Nuyens. The Belgian, who won Het Volk in 2005 and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne last season, will be able to lead the team at these races, assisted by Frank Hoj and the young guns Kevin De Weert and Sébastien Minard. Last but not least, Maxime Monfort and Rik Verbrugghe will also be targeting the Ardennes Classics, with the latter also chosen to peak at the Tour de France.

"Last year it was all reconstruction," said Boyer, who was hired after the team was shattered by several doping cases. "This year, we're entering a new phase. We have greater objectives, more difficult to obtain."

The two captains of the team will nevertheless remain the same: Sylvain Chavanel and David Moncoutié. While Chavanel is still only just breaking through on an international level, climber Moncoutié is hoping to repeat his accomplishments and leave his bad luck of 2006 behind. The 32 year-old injured the a tendon in his right leg at the 2006 Dauphiné Libéré, and tried to come back too early after that, which resulted in a chronic tendonitis, preventing him from racing since last August.

"I didn't touch the bike for three months," explained Moncoutié to L'Equipe. "I started to softly train again in late October, but only to turn the legs. I couldn't force it, as it hurt right away. In December, I started to feel better. At the moment, I only think about my comeback. I want to get all of my potential back, I'm more motivated than ever. But if ever I continue to have inflammations throughout the year, it will be my last season as a pro."

That is something Boyer is certainly not hoping for. "We've preselected about 15 riders for the Tour de France," he said. "Last year, we won a stage, but we could have won four or five." Swiss rider Steve Zampieri and French newcomer Maryan Hary will be targeting the Giro d'Italia for the team, which will also count on English-speaking pros such as Tyler Farrar, Chris Sutton and Bradley Wiggins.

Stéphane Augé (Fra), Frédéric Bessy (Fra), Mickaël Buffaz (Fra, Agritubel), Sylvain Chavanel (Fra), Kevin De Weert (Bel, Quick Step-Innergetic), Hervé Duclos-Lassalle (Fra), Leonardo Duque (Col), Michiel Elijzen (Ned), Tyler Farrar (USA), Bingen Fernandez (Esp), Nicolas Hartmann (Fra, Elite 2), Maryan Hary (Fra, Bouygues Telecom), Mathieu Heijboer (Ned), Frank Hoj (Dan, Gerolsteiner), Yann Huguet (Fra, Elite 2), Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra), Sébastien Minard (Fra), Amaël Moinard (Fra), David Moncoutié (Fra), Maxime Monfort (Bel), Damien Monier (Fra), Cristian Moreni (Ita), Nick Nuyens (Bel, Quick Step-Innergetic), Ivan Parra (Col), Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel), Christopher Sutton (Aus), Tristan Valentin (Fra), Rik Verbrugghe (Bel), Bradley Wiggins (Gbr) and Steve Zampieri (Sui, Phonak Hearing Systems).

Also see: Cofidis on Cyclingnews' teams database


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by AFP

Images by Andrea Hübner/

Scanlon moves to Toyota-United Pro

By Shane Stokes

Mark Scanlon
Photo ©: Toyota-United Pro
(Click for larger image)

The 1998 world junior champion Mark Scanlon has been confirmed amongst the lineup for the 2007 Toyota-United Pro team, completing his move to the US racing scene.

Scanlon had spent four seasons with the AG2R Prévoyance team, winning the opening stage of the Tour of Denmark in 2003 and then the following season, becoming the first Irish rider in 11 years to take part in the Tour de France. However last September he spoke about his disillusionment with the European peloton, saying that the prospect of a change of scene was what was keeping him in the sport.

"I want a fresh start, and so a move to a totally different scene seems like a good idea," he stated at the time. "Firstly, I have been in Europe since I was 17 or 18 and it has come to the point now where I am not getting motivated for the big races the way I should be. At the same time too, you wonder if you should be making big sacrifices to finish 16th or 17th in a race, if guys are doping. It is not very motivating."

Although it was known that he was heading to the US, he previously told Cyclingnews he was unable to name the team he would be racing with until they made their own announcement. However in a release issued on Thursday, Toyota-United Pro confirmed his signing, saying that it was looking forward to working with him and three other new acquisitions.

"We've added some serious firepower and Pro Tour level experience with Mark Scanlon, Henk Vogels and climbing specialist Burke Swindlehurst, plus our wild card Caleb Manion," stated team manager Harm Jansen. "I think we'll definitely have an impact on the domestic racing circuit this year."

Although Scanlon will be based mainly in the US, he will line out against European teams in several races there. The Toyota United Pro squad gets things underway in the 2.HC Amgen Tour of California, which runs from February 18 – 25th, and this could mark his debut in their colours. Three other Irish riders will also be riding pro in the US. Ciarán Power and David O'Loughlin remain with the Navigators Insurance pro team, while national road race champion David McCann has signed a deal to compete with Colavita/Sutter Home.

See the full roster in the Cyclingnews teams database

UCI reacts to Belgian doping stories

At a meeting of the UCI Management Committee in Courtrai, Belgium, the organisation declined to take any action based on the recent stories in the Belgian press about alleged organised doping at Quick Step and the confession by Johan Museeuw. A statement released by the UCI said "Lacking any proof or evidence, the Management Committee will not express for the moment any opinion, however it will follow the case closely."

The statement went on to express the UCI's support of it's president, Pat McQuaid, over the recent spat between the UCI and the Grand Tour organisers, saying "in troubled times for cycling, [he] strongly reaffirmed the obligation for all to respect participation rules to UCI ProTour calendar events, which makes it impossible to accept the unfolding of a competition beyond these rules."

In a response to the legal decision in favor of the LPR and Fuerteventura Canarias teams, who fought exclusion from the Professional Continental ranks, the statement confirmed that the teams will be registered as Professional Continental teams, but only "provisionally".

The UCI also announced the host cities of future championship events, including the 2009 Mountain Bike worlds in Canberra, Australia. Cyclingnews will have a full feature about this announcement in coming days.

The Danish city of Copenhagen was granted three championships, including the the 2008 BMX world championship,the 2010 indoor cycling worlds and the 2011 world road championship. Denmark last hosted the world road championship in 1956.

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