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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for July 2, 2007

Edited by Sue George

Stanga rejects Jaksche's claims

Gianluigi Stanga at 2000 Tour de France
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

In an official statement released by the team, Milram's Gianluigi Stanga called upon Jörg Jaksche to explain himself and his recent accusations. German rider Jaksche had confessed Saturday to using banned substances and practicing blood doping to enhance his performance in an exclusive interview with Der Spiegel.

"I have read, with bitterness and incredulity, the serious affirmations of Jörg Jaksche," read Stanga's statement.

Jaksche had said his doping program began in 1997 while competing for Team Polti at the Tour de Suisse. That's where he first tried EPO. He claimed Stanga was the one to introduce him to it and wanted to see to what substances Jaksche would respond.

Stanga described their relationship differently, saying they met 10 years ago but hardly talked. He said, the first year of their relationship, Jaksche was still in the military, but even after that, neither spoke the same language as the other.

Italian Sport Director Gianluigi Stanga in Milram car
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Defending himself, Stanga said, "Those who know me - and I refer to those hundreds of riders who, in the course of my long career, have known me perfectly well, know that it is not my custom to interfere, for any reason, in medical issues. And it is not a matter of principle, but effectively a necessity, in as much as my training in medicine and drugs, is obviously null."

"Today I find myself in the depressing condition of having to defend myself, forced to guard my innocence and my image as a professional."

Stanga criticized Jaksche's recent comments saying the suspended Tinkoff rider "has nothing to lose and he'll play a game of massacre, one that doesn't produce a victory or any winners and turns the attention toward more attractive targets." He explained Jaksche's actions as a result of the rider having his back to the wall, with his reputation irredeemably smeared. He said Jaksche is executing a kamikaze maneuver.

Jaksche's revelations come soon after the German Cycling Federation announced Thursday it would prohibit the racer from contesting the German national championships. In May, Jaksche was suspended from racing by Tinkoff, which he had joined just one month earlier.

Jaksche had also admitted to starting a program of blood doping under the guidance of Spanish doctor Fuentes beginning in 2005. The blood bags with the name "Bella" on them, found in Fuentes' lab, were his.

Bennati gunning for green

By Gregor Brown

Daniele Bennati (Lampre-Fondital)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Daniele Bennati is a steadily rising force in the bunch sprints. The Lampre-Fondital rider has a string of important wins to his name and is ready to take the next step: a sprint-win in the Tour de France.

The Italian is building for the Tour de France, having taken some time away from the bike after completing the Classics season. The 26 year-old proved he's back in-form with a series of second places at the Tour de Suisse, after recovering from an intestinal infection that hampered his spring campaign.

Bennati placed second in the Swiss Prologue, behind Fabian Cancellara (Team CSC), again on Stage 1, behind Erik Zabel (Milram), and a third time on Stage 5, this time behind Australian Robbie McEwen (Predictor-Lotto). The trio of top placings may not have been victories but the sprinter hopes they are a springboard for a first Tour stage victory.

"I think my condition is pretty good and I am recovering," admitted Bennati of his form. "I have had a couple of soft days [since Suisse] and this form should help me for [this weekend's Italian] Championships and then on to the Tour. My condition is pretty good."

Three wins against Alessandro Petacchi, one of the few racers regarded as a super-sprinter, left Bennati full of enthusiasm early in the season. Despite battling with the intestinal problems he picked up victory on Three Days of De Panne's Stage 2 and helped Ballan win Ronde van Vlaanderen. While some would be disappointed after a triple bridesmaid finish like Bennati's Suisse campaign, he's just delighted with his quick return to the peloton's pointy end after a touch-and-go spring campaign.

"It would have been better to have a victory, but considering the problems I had before, I have come out of Switzerland with more confidence," he admitted. "I am content because I did not think that I would arrive at the front so soon. The victory did not arrive, but I felt good with my form."

One of those near misses in Switzerland was behind McEwen, an 11 time Tour de France stage winner. Bennati considers the Australian to be one of the strongest rivals he will face at this year's Tour. "The rivals will be McEwen, [Tom] Boonen, [Alessandro] Petacchi, [Thor] Hushovd... there will be a lot!" laughed the Italian.

To read the complete interview, click here.

LeMond explains: abuse helped him steer clear of doping

Three time Tour winner Greg LeMond
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

In an interview with The Sunday Times, former Tour de France winner Greg LeMond opened up about his past personal history of sexual abuse and how that influenced him to stay clear of taking performance enhancing drugs.

LeMond doesn't remember how long he was subject to the sexual abuse from a friend of the family, but he knows it ended in April or May of 1975 after his parents' marriage stabilized. The abuse was never discussed in his family, and it hung as a cloud over his head for decades to come.

"Cycling was a way for me to reinvent myself," he said to The Sunday Times. "It was the first time I really had my dad in my life. It united my parents, united my family, and I think that's what really drove me. It felt so good to feel good about yourself and do something that my parents were proud of."

Driven to seek approval and not let people down, LeMond struggled with the fame. He was ashamed of himself and felt partially responsible for the abuse. It kept him from enjoying his success. "My first thought when I won the Tour was: 'My God, I'm going to be famous,' and then I thought, 'He's going to call.' I was always waiting for that phone call. I lived in fear that anyone would ever find out."

No one but his wife and therapist did until during the Floyd Landis doping hearing in May of this year when Will Geoghegan, a close friend of Floyd Landis at the time, prank called LeMond, pretending to be the person who abused him decades ago.

After almost losing his wife and family while he kept his past secret, LeMond opened up and took charge of his life. "I'm holding people accountable now. I've hired an investigator to find the guy who abused me, to get him on a [paedophile] list. Nobody is going to take advantage of me. I'm not taking shit from anybody...the last four years has been the proudest period of my life."

Speaking of his involvement with cycling, LeMond said, "There are a lot of unhealthy people that are driven to sports and they are driven by their own demons, their own past. You see it in business too... . They can't ever get enough money. They can't ever get enough glory. They can't ever fill the hole... It almost destroyed me, but I have been able to work through a lot of those difficulties."

"It appears extraordinary, you know . . . It appeared that everything was always perfect in my life, but it's been far from perfect. I am fortunate where I am today...that I have been able to...address the stuff that I was never able to address . . . Compared to what I've been through in the past three or four years, the Tour de France is easy."

Near the end of his career, there were rumors of a new drug, EPO, and LeMond found he couldn't compete any more. He explained this to The Sunday Times.

"I know there was doping in the 80s and I'm certain a lot of riders were doing stuff and that cortisone was a drug of choice, but I was always able to perform and win races against those guys. At 19 years-old I finished third in the Dauphine; at 20, I won the Tour de L'Avenir by 10 minutes and finished second in the worlds. I was fortunate I was successful right away and didn't get drawn into that. By 1993 I was just so fatigued and I don't know if it was because everybody was on EPO, I really don't, but I was checked out for every possible problem there could be health-wise.

"I went to see a sports doctor and he said, 'Greg, there is nothing wrong with you; if you want to race well ... if you're not on EPO, you don't have a chance'".

LeMond claimed he never considered doping. "I had already won three Tours – and I don't know if this is on the record – but I don't think I could have survived a positive drug test. I'm talking psychologically."

Demol reflects on Devolder's future

"Step on the gas... and go!"

By Brecht Decaluwé in Ronse

Stijn Devolder
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
(Click for larger image)

The impulsive racing style of Stijn Devolder finally delivered results, giving him a smashing performance at the Belgian nationals and the Tour de Suisse.

"Stijn is somebody who has been colouring the races for many years now, and today you see that if you keep trying, it has to deliver on a given day," said Discovery Channel's team director Dirk Demol, who tried to convince his compatriot to start in la Grande Boucle even though Devolder's program didn't originally include the Tour de France. Instead, Devolder preferred to aim for the Vuelta a Espana.

"I insisted a little longer but we decided to support his plans," said Demol. "Stijn prefers to be a protected rider in Spain rather than working as a domestique in the Tour de France. By supporting his plans, we want to show our confidence in him," Demol said to Cyclingnews.

The new Belgian national champion had disappointed the team during the Spring Classics when the pressure was on his shoulders, but he has been discovering other talents during recent stage races. "I'm sure Stijn can handle the pressure, and he will not disappoint us in the Vuelta. More and more, he's performing well during stage races like earlier this year in Germany and Paris-Nice," Demol praised his compatriot before assuring that we'll see the new national jersey more than on one occasion next year.

It was said that Devolder would be working for Janez Brajkovic in Switzerland, but Devolder's hard work during the climbs at the Tour de Suisse caused Brajkovic to drop from the group of favourites. "I've read that as well," said Demol, "but I want to correct that because Devolder rode for himself in Switzerland and he was feeling good. He was trying to help Brajkovic with a steady pace, by avoiding attacks, but it proved to be too hard for Janez."

Dirk Demol
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
(Click for larger image)

"Stijn often receives a free role in our team and that's something that suits him perfectly," said Demol, who then explained how the team gets Devolder fired up. "Step on the gas... and go!" they say, although smart readers may realize that sounds different in local slang.

Last week Discovery Channel released their line-up for the Tour de France. One of the team's in-form men is Vladimir Gusev. "He's riding strong for a long time already, and his performance on the Grimselpass was impressive. I expect him to pull off a top-five result in the prologue in London," predicted Demol. "To win the prologue, Cancellara looks unbeatable to me after his performance in Switzerland."

Referring to next Saturday's time trial through the streets of London, Demol said, "Gusev won't be our man for the GC though, we've got Leipheimer for yellow and Contador for the white, young rider's jersey."

To read complete coverage of Devolder's win at the Belgian National Road Championships, click here. Also check out a summary of the 2007 national champions or our main page.

Visconti "over the moon"

Giovanni Visconti (Quickstep)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Giovanni Visconti won the Italian National Championship road race on Sunday, beating Paolo Bossoni (Team Lampre) and Davide Rebellin (Team Gerolsteiner) at the end in a sprint. At 12 kilometers to go, Rebellin made his move. Visconti, Bossoni, and Christian Murro (Tenax-Menikini) took the wheels of the Gerolsteiner's rider. The four were able to keep the peloton away until the final meters.

"I'm over the moon," Visconti said, "I have thought about this race for a long time. The teamwork was perfect, and Bettini helped me a lot to stay calm and concentrate for the final. It's the best moment of my career. I won a lot when I was an espoir but nothing is comparable to this fantastic day!"

It was the 24-year-old's second victory after the 2006 Coppa Sabatini.

For complete coverage of the Italian national road championships, click here.

Keisse missing Gilmore

"His accident and retirement are a disaster, also for me"

By Brecht Decaluwé in Ronse

Matt Gilmore and Iljo Keisse at a Six Day race in Gent in 2005
Photo ©: Nick Rosenthal
Click for larger image

World points race runner-up Iljo Keisse showed himself on the roads near Ronse in an attack during the Belgian national road championships on Sunday, while riding between the big names of Belgian road cycling. He tried his luck in the finale, but he'd end up finishing 29th.

Keisse's performance on the road didn't come as a real surprise; he had already finished a remarkable third place in the semi-classic Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne shortly after the end of his winter track season. The Belgian is from Gent, which is hosting the finish of stage 2 of this year's Tour de France stage finish. Gent is also where he won the six-day event that was stopped after the fatal accident involving Isaac Galvez Lopez. Last winter, Keisse also won the Rotterdam six-day.

"For me, this is just something to keep me busy as this is all training, more or less, for the track competition," Keisse said to Cyclingnews. "I hoped to be a little better because when they pulled hard in front, I felt that it wasn't my day. I realized I had to anticipate, and that's why I attacked.

"Not much later we got caught, and then the real firework started off. At that moment, I had already used one of my cartridges for nothing," said Keisse, who seemed unhappy about his tactics. In the past, Keisse partnered with Matthew Gilmore, an Australian-Belgian cyclist who had to retire after a complex knee injury.

"His accident and retirement are a disaster - also for me - as I've got to find my way by myself. Matthew had a lot of bad luck, also earlier in his career. I'm happy that he received the opportunity to work as a coach. Hopefully it's a more fortunate future for him," Keisse said about his former track partner.

"The Olympics are coming up pretty soon, and I still have to find a partner for the Madison." Young track racer Kenny De Ketele, who showed himself in the early breakaway in Ronse, is an option for a partner for Keisse in Beijing. "The points race is individual, so that's no problem, but for the Madison, Kenny De Ketele is a candidate," said Keisse. "We'll be testing some combinations in the upcoming World Cup events."

Tour de France video - Smash it up!

Sometimes the pain of riding the three weeks of the Tour de France isn't enough. Cyclingnews takes a light-hearted look at the variety of different type of crashes that a rider may encounter during the three weeks of the Tour.

No wonder most mothers turn away when the peloton is within sight of the finish during the first week of the Tour. 200 riders pushing 70km/h with their heads down and only one thought in their minds, to finish first, is enough to make anyone nervous. Crashes during these stages will bring the loudest "oooo'ssss" from excited spectators lining the roads or watching at home, while those suffered while descending or taking a wet corner on a narrow road in central France will achieve the biggest "DAMN! That's gotta hurt."

Sometimes, just as you're getting a little bored watching the peloton cruising along the road towards the finish of the stage, a rider may think to himself that he too is bored and decides to test the skill of his fellow work mates, by squeezing through an impossible gap, only to find that, unlike a cat, he has no whiskers and his bars are just a little wider than he thought, and he brings the entire peloton down around him.

Oh well, remember guys, if you get up one more time than you fall, you will make it through!

Click here to view the video.

British preview Tour roads

As many as 5,000 cyclists joined a mass, 193km organized ride from London to Kent along the upcoming Tour de France route. They were led by World Sprint Champion Victoria Pendleton.

"It's a fantastic occasion to see so many people on bikes," said Pendleton to the BBC. "I would encourage people to enjoy the day, encourage each other on the climbs and demonstrate how wonderful our sport is."

Pendleton was joined by former football player Ian Wright and 30 members of the London 2012 Olympic organizing committee. British Cycling organized the event just one week before the early stages of the Tour de France travel through London and Kent.

Absalon secures overall

Absalon & Hermida after World Cup Round #4
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

Julien Absalon (Orbea) secured his second consecutive overall World Cup cross country win Sunday with a thrilling victory at St. Félicien, Quebec in Canada. The World Cup series isn't over yet, but it's mathematically impossible for the French defending World Cup leader and World Champion to lose.

Absalon has won all but one of the World Cups this year, and in that one, he still finished second. In St. Félicien, he took the lead, on a technical circuit without much climbing that favored his strengths. Spanish racer Jose Antonio Hermida (Multivan Merida Biking Team), the only other World Cup round winner so far this year, challenged, but finished second at 1'18".

Hermida was leading, but when Absalon attacked him, the Spaniard damaged his chain and after fixing the mechanical himself, he picked up the chase in fourth position and worked his way back to second. Afterward, Hermida said, keeping it all in perspective, "It's a good result, sometimes you've got bad luck and sometimes good luck. To me, it was important to show that I can deliver stable results, and today's result shows what level I currently am at."

"I feel enormously content with this great victory," said Absalon, happy with his team's support.

One more World Cup cross country race is on the calendar; it's set for September 15-16 in Maribor, Slovenia.

For full World Cup coverage, click here.

Hayduk breaks junior 500m American record

Colleen Hayduk (Team Fuji-Salamander) won a national title at this year's USAC Junior Track National Championships on opening night by setting a new national record in the women's age 17-18 500-meter time trial. Along with the jersey, she earned an automatic nomination to represent the United States at the UCI Junior Track World Championships later this summer in Mexico. Hayduk clocked a winning time of 36.656 seconds to best four other competitors in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Her mark surpassed the old record of 37.280 previously held by Missy Thompson.

Three other national champions crowned Saturday night were Nik Reinert (Team Fuji-Salamander) in the points race, averaging 44.753 kph, Justin Williams (Team Rock) in the keirin, and Catherine Fiedler (Home Depot Center) in the 5km scratch race

Racing action was set to continue Sunday with titles up for grabs in the men's 17-18 3km individual pursuit and kilo time trial and the women's 17-18 sprint.

The 2007 USA Cycling Junior Track National Championships continue on Sunday as national titles up for grabs include the junior men’s 17-18 three-kilometer individual pursuit and kilometer time trial, as well as the junior women’s 17-18 sprint.

New and improved Fantasy Le Tour 2007

Win a Cervélo Soloist Carbon
Photo ©: Tim de Waele/TDW Sport
(Click for larger image)

The new, improved Fantasy Cyclingnews games for 2007 mark the fifth year of cycling fun here at Cyclingnews. The prize roster for the Tour 2007 game looks even more impressive than last year. This year we are kicking off the prize roster with a grand prize of a Cervelo Soloist Carbon Team CSC replica bicycle worth $4750 USD!

We've added other improvements to the game this year too. A whole new ranking and results service has been installed to offer new depths of rider statistics on races over the last four years. You can now search for your friends' teams and see their exact selections in this year's game as it happens. Why not have a look at the winning managers' team selections for last year to give your self a better idea of who to select in this year's Tour.

(Click for larger image)

Follow the progress of the key fantasy managers whilst also tracking your friends' progress in the new 'Watch Teams' tool and building your own Mini-Leagues. The Forum/Chat area also provides new ways to communicate with your fellow players from around the world in real time as the races unfold.

Even if you don't win the grand prize, the Fantasy Le Tour game is a great way to follow the Tour each day here at Cyclingnews. It's free to play the first three stages - try it out today. You don't need to be a cycling expert to win prizes. Registration has already begun.

Updated - Le Tour Fantasy Game prize list

Giro Atmos Helmet
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

Prize summary: From one grand prize and one first runner-up to three each second, third, and fourth runner-up prize packages, there are eleven chances for you to win based on your overall performance in the 2007 Le Tour Fantasy Game. There are also 21 daily prizes for each stage's top performer. All prizes are as listed (substitution requests cannot be honoured). The roster of prizes so far is as follows:

Grand prize from Cervelo, Soloist Carbon Team CSC replica bicycle worth $4750 USD. Equipped with Shimano Ultegra 10-speed, R-550 wheels, FSA cranks, bars and stem, Selle Italia Marco Ponza saddle, Cervelo aero carbon seatpost, and Vittoria Diamante Pro Lite tyres.

Daily Prize from BBB Parts - 21 pairs of BSG-23 Winner Quick-Step World Champion glasses designed for Tom Boonen - one for each day of the Tour.

BBB's BSG-23 Winner Team Quickstep glasses
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

10x runners-up prizes

  • Cycleops Powertap 2.4 Wireless
  • Set of Shimano Dura Ace WH-7801-SL Wheels - three sets on offer
  • Maxxis Courchevel road tyres - 10 sets on offer
  • Descente Classic Chevron design clothing - four sets on offer
  • PRO carbon bottle cage - x10 on offer
  • Speedplay Zero stainless steel pedals - three sets on offer
  • Giro Atmos Helmet - three on offer

More prizes will be announced in the coming days. To find out more visit the prizes page.

What is the Fantasy Le Tour game?

Descente Classic Chevron designer clothing
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

The online game allows you to assume the role of a professional team manager for the 2007 Le Tour and create your own dream team from any of the real life riders in this year's Tour. In what's set to be the most open Tour in decades, based on the live racing action, you will take up the challenge of using your knowledge and tactical skill as a race team manager to compete with other virtual managers from around the world. Follow the races live and use your skill and knowledge to win some great prizes.

Play for free in the Fantasy Le Tour 2007 game

Remember you can play for free for the first three stages! Try the game out and see how best to play. It's easy to play the Tour games - all you need to do is pick your dream team of 15 from the riders racing in this year's Tour start list. Then each day pick nine riders to race for your fantasy team from these 15. You'll need a good combination of climbers, sprinters, and general classification riders.

For more details register for free now. It's a great way to follow Le Tour 2007.

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