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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for July 3, 2007

Edited by Ben Abrahams, Greg Johnson & Paul Verkuylen

Godefroot to stand down after Tour

Astana technical manager Walter Godefroot
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Astana technical manager Walter Godefroot will not attend the Tour de France start in London and plans to leave his position with the Swiss-registered team after the race finishes. Godefroot will follow the Tour's stages through Belgium from the Astana team car, health permitting.

"I am currently struggling with violent back pains," Godefroot told the Belga news agency. "I have already been to a chiropracter and a doctor for this. I am experiencing too much pain to travel to London for the start of the Tour de France."

The 63 year-old Belgian has recently faced a series of accusations from Jörg Jaksche and other former Team Telekom riders alleging that he was fully aware of a well-established doping system within the team during the 1990s. However, Godefroot, who has denied any knowledge of riders doping, said he always planned to leave Astana once the team was running smoothly.

"I always said I would withdraw as soon as the team was on the rails," he said. "My work is to end and I leave behind a beautiful team. What does the future hold for me? Firstly to cure my back pain, then we will see later on."

Petacchi and Stanga heard by CONI

Alessandro Petacchi leaves the Olympic stadium
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Alessandro Petacchi underwent two hours of questioning by Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) prosecutors on Monday regarding his non-negative test for the asthma drug salbutamol during this year's Giro d'Italia. CONI prosecutor Ettore Tori said that a decision is expected "very promptly" which will determine whether or not the 33 year-old Milram sprinter travels to London for the Tour de France.

"I sought to explain my position scientifically and my good faith in what happened," said Petacchi, who is authorised to use certain amounts of salbutamol as an asthma sufferer. "The Tour? It depends on the attorney's office, now it's all in their hands," he said.

Milram team manager Gianluigi Stanga was also at the Rome meeting to answer questions relating to the allegations from Jörg Jaksche that he supplied drugs to the German rider while managing Team Polti in 1997.

"I chose to speak with the anti-doping prosecutor about this event which I find myself involved in," said Stanga. "I wanted to confirm that what [Jaksche] had said is absolutely not true, and I believe it can be confirmed by a lot of athletes I had in my squads. I have been working for many years to build myself a reputation and I do not want it destroyed by nonsense."

Stanga was also hopeful that his star rider Petacchi would not be prevented from starting the Tour de France on Saturday. "Alessandro Petacchi should be in London on Thursday morning for the (pre-race) controls but I am certain that the organizers of the Tour de France will be prepared to wait for him even in extremis," Stanga told the Apcom news agency. "However, between the Tour and absolution, I choose absolution."

Tour to start without number one

The number one dossard traditionally worn by a defending Tour de France champion will be nowhere in sight when the race begins in London this Saturday, according to race organisers ASO.

With the outcome of 2006 winner Floyd Landis' arbitration hearing still pending, ASO have elected to start the numbering at 11, which will be awarded to a rider from the Caisse d'Epargne team. However, it is yet to be revealed whether team leader Alejandro Valverde or 2006 runner-up Oscar Pereiro will wear the number 11.

Jaksche admission in detail

Jorg Jaksche riding for Liberty Seguros at the 2006 Liège-Bastogne-Liège
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Cyclingnews' Bjorn Haake reveals the contents of Jörg Jaksche's interview with Der Spiegel, where the suspended Tinkoff Credit Systems rider confessed to using performance enhancing drugs and blood doping.

Jörg Jaksche appeared at his Der Spiegel interview with just a cell phone and a black plastic bag. Inside the mysterious black bag was a binder, containing documents and letters compiled by or from his lawyer, Michael Lehner, during the Operación Puerto investigation. For those who recognise Lehner's name, it's likely because he also defended Danilo Hondo and Dieter Baumann, an Olympic track and field champion.

Despite his recent admission to having used performance enhancing drugs, Jaksche still trains six hours a day, holding onto the hope that he may be allowed to race again someday. The German rider hopes that offering to be a key witness will be rewarded with a reduced sentence, which could see him return as soon as next year, according to Jaksche.

The 30 year-old's admission to Der Spiegel sent shock waves through the cycling industry. Jaksche said that the Omertà, the law of silence, works because everyone, including doctors, soigneurs, riders, and team managers, complied to the vow of silence. Even the recent wave of doping admissions couldn't break it, Jaksche said, as all riders who admitted to doping in their careers only implicated themselves, and usually to events which have long since transpired.

To read the full news feature, click here.

Caisse d'Epargne for the Tour

The Caisse d'Epargne team has released its nine men that will travel to London for the Tour de France start on Saturday. Highlighted by the presence of Alejandro Valverde, Oscar Pereiro and in-form Tour de Suisse winner Vladimir Karpets, the team also includes David Arroyo, Vicente García Acosta, Iván Gutiérrez, Fran Pérez, Nicolas Portal and Xabier Zandio.

The predominantly Spanish squad will be directed by Eusebio Unzúe and José Luis Jaimerena.

According to the UCI's official list, none of the aforementioned nine riders have signed the UCI Anti-Doping Charter, which, according to race organisers ASO, is a prerequisite for any rider wishing to compete.

Final change to T-Mobile Tour team

German ProTour team T-Mobile has made a change to its original Tour de France roster, replacing 37 year-old Italian Giuseppe Guerini with German Bert Grabsch who won the German time trial championships last weekend. The Italian forfeited his spot on the team as he is currently suffering from stomach problems according to SportWereld

The full line up for the T-Mobile at the Tour de France is Michael Rogers (Aus), Mark Cavendish (GBr), Marcus Burghardt (Ger), Linus Gerdemann (Ger), Kim Kirchen (Lux), Bernhard Eisel (Aus), Axel Merckx (Bel), Bert Grabsch (Ger) and Patrick Sinkewitz (Ger).

Bouygues Telecom looking to the mountains

The Bouygues Telecom squad is a more mature unit than in recent years and is counting on this edition of the Tour de France to show its talent with team manager Jean-René Bernaudeau hoping his riders will figure in the mountain stages.

"This edition of the Tour will give us the opportunity to show we belong, knowing that cycling is cleaner than in the past," explained Bernaudeau to "What we have seen in the races for a few months encourages us to persevere with our efforts. And if the cycling world feels better, riders are less concerned and so the atmosphere is more favourable to good results."

The objectives of the French team are simple, go after stage wins. "We do not really have a leader to aim at a good position in the overall standings, but we will try to win at least one stage," said Bernaudeau. "Last year Pierrick Fedrigo gave us our first stage victory on the Tour and everybody was very moved in the team. Now we hope to live such moments again in the future. We will have 20 stages to prove we can win. Our riders will have to show their fighting spirit everyday."

France's favourite fighter Thomas Voeckler will again be a major part of the team, but he is not team leader. Instead, like all the riders on the team, he shares an equal role. "Like his team mates, Thomas is there to improve his stats. To be honest, the major asset of our team lies in the fact that our riders complement each other. Generally speaking, our riders have maturity: Fedrigo is fitter than last year and so is Sprick. We will also count on Laurent Lefèvre and Johann Tschopp as soon as we reach the Alps. I think you will see us more in the mountain stages this year."

Bouygues Telecom's Tour line-up: Stef Clement (Ned), Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra), Xavier Florencio (Esp), Anthony Geslin (Fra), Laurent Lefèvre (Fra), Jérôme Pineau (Fra), Matthieu Sprick (Fra), Johann Tschopp (Swi) and Thomas Voeckler (Fra).

Boonen 'preparing differently' for the Tour

Former world champion Tom Boonen needs some stage victories at the Tour de France to regain his status as the peloton's star sprinter. Just like last year, Boonen will try to cross Belgium with the yellow jersey on his shoulders, but hopes to bag some stage wins, something he was unable to manage in the 2006 edition.

"His preparation for the Tour this year has been completely different to that of last year," explained team manager Patrick Lefévère to "First of all he was under less pressure during the spring, which made that period less tiring for him. Last year he was in great shape for the Tour of Switzerland but was already quite worn out at the beginning of the Tour de France.

"So we decided to work differently this year. Although Tom did not win the flat stage at the Dauphiné Libéré, the week spent there was quite positive, in particular because he was still pretty fit at the end of the race. So this is a good sign. It also makes it easier to start the Tour without being flagged as the favourite for the sprints: others will have to stand the pressure. Tom will also be motivated because he will have to prove he is still there.

Dekker and Flecha extend with Rabobank

Thomas Dekker and Juan Antonio Flecha have both inked new contracts with the Rabobank team until the end of 2009. Team manager Theo de Rooij announced the extensions at Rabobank's Tour de France team presentation in Valkenburg, The Netherlands on Monday.

"Thomas is only 22 years old. It all goes so fast," noted de Rooij of his young protege, who joined Rabobank's development team in 2002. "At that age, being able to impress in races like Tirreno-Adriatico, the Tour de Suisse and the Tour de Romandie... It is good for Dutch cycling in general and for the Rabobank cycling team in particular to keep Thomas aboard for at least two more years."

de Rooij also spoke highly of Flecha, who placed second this year in the Omloop Het Volk and Paris-Roubaix. "Riders like Flecha may not be the best known with the Dutch cycling fans. But Flecha represents a great value for the team. He is a fantastic guy, a true cycling asset," said de Rooij.

Cummings aiming for Vuelta following injury

British rider Steve Cummings is aiming for his Discovery Channel team's Vuelta a España squad, having suffered a season setback with a broken elbow at last month's Eindhoven Team Time Trial.

"It's (the broken elbow) spoilt my plans for the next few weeks and it's giving me a lot of pain in more ways than one!" said Cummings. "I do not know how long it is going to take to get better."

Cummings completed his first Grand Tour this season, having contested the Giro d'Italia in May. There, Cummings finished 110th out of the 141 riders to complete the three week long event.

"It's very frustrating but when I can, I will be back training very hard for the rest of season's races, maybe even the Vuelta, we will see," he added, "but I would like to thank all the people that supported me and also all those who wrote to me during the Giro from all over the world."

Cummings suffered the injury when his teammate Thomas Vaitkus fell in front of him at the Netherlands ProTour event.

Scarponi gets hearing date

Italian rider Michele Scarponi (Acqua e Sapone) who admitted his involvement in the Operación Puerto affair will face the disciplinary commission of the Italian cycling federation (FCI) on Friday July 13, according to SportWereld.

On June 5 the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) demanded an 18-month suspension for the 27 year-old, for "the use and possession of banned substances". It is up to the FCI to decide the length of suspension Scarponi will receive.

Tour de France video - Mountains of the Tour

By Paul Verkuylen

The Col du Tourmalet, the Mont Ventoux, the Col du Galibier, Hautacam and Alpe d'Huez - those magical high mountains in the Alps and the Pyrénées that set the Tour apart from any other stage race on the planet. Cyclingnews takes a look at these mountains and how they can shape the Tour from year to year.

Climbers love them, sprinters hate them, but no matter who you are, one thing is certain: as soon as the Tour hits the mountains, the suffering begins. The climbers fight for stage wins or to gain time on their rivals for the time trials, the sprinters and the domestiques fight to stay inside the time limit, so that they can live to extract revenge in the flatter stages that will follow.

Spectators love watching up close the pain and hurt that each rider goes through in their own version of hell, as well as offering them encouragement as they make their way to the summit.

Click here to view the video.

Cyclist killed in midwest road race

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor

A 24 year-old first-year racer was killed Saturday when a passing truck struck her while competing in the Proctor Cycling Classic in Brimfield, Illinois near Peoria. Beth Kobeszka (XXX Racing-AthletiCo) from Chicago was competing in the women's category 4 road race when she was reportedly bumped into the path of the truck pulling a horse trailer.

Witnesses of the accident reported that riders had crossed the middle yellow line as the pack of about 25 to 30 crested a small hill four miles from the race finish along Brimfield-Jubilee road. The truck was headed in the opposite direction legally as the race was operating under the 'yellow line rule.' The police report said that Kobeszka was bumped into the path of the truck by another racer.

"There had been some girls passing on the left several times and the lead car came back to tell people about the yellow line rule," Katie Haft (Morris Trucking Velo), who was racing in the event, told Cyclingnews. "We came up the crest of the hill and I don't know if people were passing or if they were bumped if while a truck pulling a trailer was coming the other direction."

"I just saw people getting tangled and one woman fell into the side of the trailer and it rolled over her," Haft said.

"A few on the front kept going but a lot of people stopped. People were really unsure of what to do. I stopped for a while and the follow car in back stopped but there was probably nothing I could do."

Kobeszka was transported to a local hospital with multiple injuries and was pronounced dead later the same day.

The police report said that the truck was driven by Thomas S. Milligan, 48, of Quincy, Illinois and that he stopped immediately after the collision.

"Our prayers and thoughts are with the family of the young lady," Milligan told the Peoria Journal Star from his home Sunday. "I've got two daughters and I can't even imagine what they're going through. It was a tragic thing. It's just a shock."

No charges are expected in the case, according to police.

Kobeszka was new to the XXX team but was a part of its women's development squad, headed by Randy Warren, which focused on racing. "She graduated from Northwestern University and was a runner there," said Warren. "She was was relatively new, joining the team this year, but was pretty gung-ho about racing. She was part of the women's development program which means signing agreement to race, and she won the Cobb Park criterium last weekend."

The already scheduled July 2 team meeting has been transformed into a forum for team-mates to deal with the tragedy. "One of our members is also a chaplain and will lead us in grief counseling," said Warren. "We are working with her mum to decide where to have a memorial fund set up. The funeral will be this week."

Warren also said that the team's August criterium in Chicago might also serve as a memorial. "We are thinking of naming the women's race after her."

More information about the memorial can be found on the team's web site: Cyclingnews extends its condolences to the family and friends.

Days left to join Fantasy Le Tour 2007

(Click for larger image)

With under a week until the 2007 Tour de France kicks off, now is a good time to start thinking about your strategy for your team selection for the Le Tour Fantasy Game.

First time player Fantasy manager 'Bobabernie' came 10th in last year's game. Here's what he had to say on his winning 2006 selection: "This was my first time trying the game, and I only made one team, so I didn't expect to be too competitive. I got most of my information from Wikipedia and one of my roommates."

"I basically looked for people who had done well on very difficult stages in the past Tours. Most of my GC contenders were favourites, but I picked a few riders that I felt would go out for tough stage wins too. Some of my picks worked well and some didn't. But I got lucky enough towards the end and just hung on."

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

We've added some great improvements to the game this year:

  • New ranking and results service, offering new depths of rider statistics on races over the last four years.
  • See your friends exact selections in the this year's game as it happens.
  • Look up the winning managers team selections for last year to improve your selection this year.
  • Follow the progress of the key fantasy managers whilst also tracking your friends' progress in the new "Watch Teams" tool.
  • Build your own Mini-Leagues.
  • Try out the Forum/Chat area, which 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 of a Cervelo Soloist Carbon CSC team replica bicycle, the Fantasy Le Tour game is a great way to follow the Tour each day here at Cyclingnews.

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

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

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 CSC team replica bicycle worth $4750 USD. Equipped with Shimano Ultegra 10-speed, R-550 wheels, FSA cranks, bars & 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
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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 - 10 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 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 Le 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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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2007)