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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for January 30, 2007

Edited by Greg Johnson & Ben Abrahams

Wellens to sue Worlds organisers

Bart Wellens (Belgium).
Photo ©: Russ and Nancy Wright
(Click for larger image)

Bart Wellens started the Cyclo-cross World Championships with a dream of wearing the rainbow bands, but his hopes were quickly dashed when a camera motorcycle clipped a plastic barrier, sending it careening into his path early in the race. Wellens crashed hard, and unbeknownst to the Belgian, he fractured his wrist in the fall, and now he wants the organisers of the race to pay.

Wellens gritted out the pain to finish in fourth place, a remarkable feat for most riders with two good arms. "I could no longer lift my bicycle... but with 30,000 men shouting in the stands, you don't give up" he told Het Nieuwsblad.

But obviously, one step off the podium wasn't where Wellens planned to finish. "They have taken a lot away from me today," said Wellens, "a beautiful jersey and a heap pennies also."

He had a clean break in his wrist that did not require surgery, but Wellens will spend four weeks with the arm in plaster, miss seven races worth of start money and prize purses during that time. The Fidea Cycling Team manager, Hans van Kasteren intends to lodge a complain with the UCI.

Page celebrates career highlight with Belgian buddies

By Brecht Decaluwé in Hooglede-Gits

US rider Jonathan Page celebrates on the podium
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

After grabbing the United States' first-ever medal in the Elite Men's division at the Cyclo-cross World Championships, Jonathan Page had many reasons to celebrate. The second placed Page was interviewed on Belgian TV and radio as they wondered who the relatively unknown American was.

Page charmed the Belgian audience by saying some Dutch words and expressed that he deserved his second place. "That's the world championships, you never know what you're going to get on this day. [The Europeans] had all the pressure in the world and maybe it got to them… you have to be lucky today also," Page said.

At the post-race press conference Page expressed his joy to the written press and pointed out that he made a huge comeback: "I'm coming back from injury and I saved my season over here. My dreams are coming true."

After the doping control Page quickly went back home to Oudenaarde with his wife Cori and two year-old daughter Emma to freshen up before heading to his friends at the Brasserie in Avelgem. There were no huge crowds there to gather around the podium finisher, as Page just isn't one of them - he's a stranger in Belgium, but Page didn't mind. “I don't need more friends, they help me to achieve my goals and that's what's most important," Page said.

He still wondered how it was possible to pull off what he did, but realised this performance needs confirmation. "Today my new career starts," and that's probably why Page didn't touch the famous Belgian beers…okay, that's a lie. Page did touch a couple of those Belgian beers and treated his friends to a few rounds, even serving as bar tender himself.

Cyclingnews was there in Avelgem and also talked to some people who work with the successful American cyclo-cross rider. Former triple world champion Mario De Clercq trained with Page and coached him for many years. "His technical skills are awesome, they equal those of Sven Nys; but he hasn't got Nys' power," De Clercq said. "It's a pity he didn’t win today; I can tell you it makes a huge difference coming in first or second at the worlds. If he would've won the race he [financially] would've made it."

Franky Van Haesebroucke, Page's mechanic and close friend, has helped the American for many years. "We met in the US and Page said to me that he wanted to live in Belgium to become a better rider," explained Van Haesebroucke. "We took him in at our place and he didn’t need much time to find his way." The former Navigators coach also gave Page some tactical help during the race. "Halfway I told him to stay on the wheel of Franzoi for a while, as he used lots of energy to get where he was. Before the worlds some people asked me whether Page would start but I guess they know by now," he laughed.

Page's current sponsor Kurt Tembuyser from Morgan Blue was happy with his investment. "Page was searching for a team, but he was injured and nobody wanted him, then we were there to offer him a contract. We will offer him a better contract for next year, but if he can improve his situation we wish him good luck," said Tembuyser, who has harvested riders such as Klaas Vantornout and also Maxime Lefèbvre in his team.

Basso and Discovery training in Solvang

Ivan Basso
Photo ©: Charlie Woodcock
(Click for larger image)

For the past week, the new look Discovery Channel team and recent star signing Ivan Basso have been busy preparing for the upcoming season holding their annual training camp in Solvang, Southern California. Besides clocking up some long hours in the saddle - the team rode for six and a half hours on Saturday according to - riders have been testing new bikes, shoes and clothing.

Now under the guidance of Johan Bruyneel, Basso took the opportunity to get in some early season training on his time trial bike - a method favoured by Lance Armstrong in previous years at Solvang.

Following the camp, scheduled to finish on February 3, Basso will continue building towards his first test of 2007 at the Tour of California starting in San Francisco on February 18.

Read Cyclingnews' exclusive interview with Ivan Basso here.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Charlie Woodcock

Pinotti: Hunting that big stage win

Marco Pinotti at the T-Mobile pre-season
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
Click for larger image

New team, big motivation. Marco Pinotti wants to have a good season, but what's also important is the way those results are achieved. Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes met him at the T-Mobile training camp.

Having placed third on the Stage 11 time trial in last year's Giro d'Italia, former Italian TT champion Marco Pinotti is hoping that his transfer from Saunier Duval to T-Mobile this season will coincide with a Giro stage victory.

The 30 year-old had a very solid year in 2006, riding well in that race against the clock and also taking seventh on Stage 10 of the Italian Tour, sixth on the Stage 4 time trial in the Dauphiné Libéré, eighth overall in the Tour of Georgia, eighth on a stage of the Tour of Catalunya, fourth in Firenze-Pistoia and the runner-up slot in the Italian Time Trial Championships.

He's clearly banging on the door of a major win, and is hoping to land one or more of those with T-Mobile this season.

"My season will be focused around the Giro d'Italia," the friendly Italian told Cyclingnews. "I would like to ride a good Giro. The goal is to arrive there with my best fitness level and to use this form to win a stage if it is possible.

"I also want to ride every race in the front, because I feel more responsibility this year with this jersey. I don't want to go to race just to do my job, but rather to do my job really well. I want to be an example for the others."

To read the full interview with Marco Pinotti click here.

Qatar: Last race for Leblanc

Jean-Marie Leblanc at the Tour of Qatar
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Tour of Qatar race director and former head of the Tour de France, Jean-Marie Leblanc is currently doing the job for the last time in the Middle Eastern Emirate. The French man will be taking his retirement from Grand Tour organiser ASO officially on January 31. The Tour de France organiser had already given him great honours at the 2006 Grande Boucle, but Leblanc is happy to wave the start flag out of his official car for the last time in Qatar.

"I'm very happy that my last race is here in Qatar, a symbolic place for ASO," he said. "The Tour of Qatar has always meant the opening to the world for ASO." The French race management company has been organising the event for years.

Leblanc, who was a professional bike racer from 1966-1971, became Tour de France director in 1988 after a successful career as a journalist. The 62 year-old will now turn to his other passion - music. Indeed, Leblanc is a very gifted Clarinet player, and has been performing modestly with a jazz ensemble in Paris for some years.

UCI announce women's teams increase

The UCI has announced a significant increase in registered women's teams for the 2007 season as well as a solid increase in the number of Continental teams. The governing body of world cycling revealed in a press note overnight that women's team registrations have skyrocketed from 28 last year to 42 for the forthcoming season, representing an impressive 50 per cent increase in just 12-months.

The increase in women's teams has been largely underpinned by an increase of teams from the Americas, with the United States increasing its number of registrations by four while Salvador also added a new squad. Canada and Russia's national federations have also confirmed new outfits while Poland has two new women's teams for 2007.

Continental teams are also on the rise, with 10 new teams this year taking the total to 135, an eight per cent increase from last season. The announcement comes as the UCI Road Commission finalised the registration of both women's and Continental teams for the upcoming season.

For a full list of UCI registered teams see Cyclingnews' 2007 Teams Database.

Motorist jailed over Carr's death

British motorist Donald Pearce has been sentenced to five years jail after striking the bike of Zak Carr on October 17, 2005. Carr was taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital following the crash, but died soon after.

The 49-year-old pleaded not-guilty to a charge of death by dangerous driving but has been convicted after standing trial at Norwich Crown Court.

It's believed a sleep-deprived Pearce may have fallen asleep at the wheel of his car when he struck Carr on the A11 in Norfolk. Pearce had been holidaying in Turkey with his wife and had not slept since flying out of the country the previous night.

Carr was well known in the British cycling community for his records and championships in time trials and on the track, was also starting to make his mark racing for Great Britain as a pilot for disabled athletes, and was planning to compete at the 2008 Paralympics.

MERCO Credit Union Cycling Classic gets into gear

A high-class international field will once again hit the streets of downtown Merced, California for the MERCO Credit Union Cycling Classic (MCUCC) presented by McLane Pacific, taking place between March 3-4, 2007. The weekend's main event is the Downtown Grand Prix held on a fast 0.8 mile course circling the historic Merced County Courthouse.

Sanctioned by USA Cycling as part of the National Racing Calendar, comprising the 45 most prestigious races on American soil, the MCUCC will attract a number of international cycling teams including the T-Mobile women's team. "We are thrilled that the T-Mobile team places such value in the MERCO Cycling Classic," said event organiser Doug Fluetsch. "The race has been growing consistently since its start in 1993 and T-Mobile's participation emphasises its importance in the cycling community."

T-Mobile's Suzanne de Goede, a former Dutch road and time trial champion, is looking forward to racing in the mild Californian spring. "The race in California will be nice to get some early racing and in the warmer weather," de Goede said. "For me it will be even more fun as it will be my first time I race in America."

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