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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for July 7, 2007

Edited by Sue George

German government threatening Worlds funding

The start of the 2006 women's world road race
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)
A German government minister has threatened to axe federal funding of the World Road Championships, slated for September 26-30 in Stuttgart, in response to recent doping scandals that have rocked the cycling world.

"We will not devote any money to a sport associated with doping," German Minister of the Interior Wolfgang Schäuble said to German paper Tagesspiegel. "If the 2007 world championship organisers want to be responsible, they will have to show this event is different from the rest. The world championships in Stuttgart are in a critical situation and it's not inconceivable that the organising committee will have to reconsider everything."

Schäuble suggested that the cancellation of an event like the World Championships might be just what the sport needs to signal a clean up and subsequent fresh start.

UCI President Pat McQuaid and German cycling federation leader Rudolph Scharping will meet with Schäuble Monday to discuss the Worlds and how drug testing will be applied to its competitors.

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Cyclingnews will cover the 60th edition of the Dauphiné Libéré live as of stage 4 on Wednesday, June 10, at approximately 15:00 local Europe time (CEST)/ 23:00 Australian time (CDT)/ 9:00 (USA East).

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Schäuble said that he would feel better if the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) were the agency conducting the doping controls rather than any federation.

The race is expected to follow the Tour de France's lead, indicating it could prevent any riders under investigation for doping from competing at the world championships. "Whoever has taken drugs before shouldn't be allowed to compete in these world championships which want to be seen as a fresh start," said Stuttgart council member Susanne Eisenmann.

Last year's World Road Championships were held in Salzburg, Austria. Italian Paolo Bettini won the men's race while Dutchwoman Marianne Vos took the women's title.

Riis missing from Tour

By Shane Stokes in London

CSC on a pre-Tour ride through London
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

One regular who will be missing the Tour this time round is CSC manager Bjarne Riis. After years of rumours, he confessed early this summer to doping during his career riding for Telekom in the 1990s. Under pressure from Tour de France organisers ASO, and not wishing to increase the tension on the team members, he decided to give the race a miss. (Read: Riis responds to Jaksche and removes himself from Tour)

"We talked about it quite a lot yesterday at the press conference in the CSC headquarters," Jens Voigt explained. "Bjarne had already explained it to us, saying that we deserve all the support he can give us but that he didn't have the energy to support team the way it deserves to be. He said that he doesn't want to be a destructive force [with regard to CSC's chances]."

"We just hope that we are not asked this question time and time and time again," said Voigt. "That is why Bjarne is not here, so that we can concentrate on riding our bikes as quickly as we can. I'm sure that when the Tour is over we are going to see him back in action again like before."

Riis' admission has brought extra stress to the team. But, whatever he did in the past, the rigorous anti-doping policy introduced this season has done a lot to help people believe that the CSC riders are riding clean.

Costing hundreds of thousands of euro, the independent programme is run by Danish anti-doping expert Rasmus Damsgaard and the results are sent to both WADA and the UCI. The latter has given it a solid thumbs up and perhaps because of this, the team was well received by the media. This contrasts with the rigorous questions those from Astana and Caisse d'Epargne faced during their own press conferences, due to perceived ambiguities in their stance.

Twelve months after last year's turmoil-torn Tour, which started under the shadow of Operación Puerto and finished with winner Floyd Landis testing positive in a testosterone doping test, there is still no final winner. But this year, CSC is doing their part in the hopes of a Tour more focused on riding than doping.

Rasmussen happy with pre-Tour form

By Shane Stokes in London

Former world MTB champion Michael Rasmussen has been one of the big guns of the Tour de France for the past two years running. In 2005 he won the king of the mountains jersey, won the ninth stage to Mulhouse and finished seventh overall. Just under twelve months ago he once again landed the polka dot jersey, was first on stage 16 to La Toussuire and finished 18th in the general classification.

The sometimes-distant Danish rider was in good form on Thursday and said that he was looking forward to the race. "I am feeling pretty good. The sensations are the same as they were last year. I hope the results will be the same as well.

"Riding the Giro has been the main part of my preparation. I managed to finish it this year and I came out of it quite fresh - that is good for the morale." Indeed he was fourth on stage 19, his best result during the race, and this backs up his assertion that his form was improving during the three week Tour.

"As regards targets for this year's Tour, I will have to wait and see," he said. "I'm not going to give the classification away like I have done in the past. If everything is status quo when we get to the bottom of the Col de la Colombière [Stage 7], then it is time to make decisions.

"It will be the same scenario as in the past. Moreau has said he is going for the mountains jersey but he is also a favourite for the overall, the way he has been riding. Who knows? As I said, if everything is status quo there, we'll have to see who is the best. Even then, things can still change a lot in the Pyrenees."

Rasmussen didn't fare as well overall in the 2006 race as he did in 2005. He's nevertheless able to look back with satisfaction. "I can't really complain about last year," he says. "I went away from the race with the Queen stage and the polka dot jersey, and the team itself won four stages. If that could be repeated I'm sure we would sign up for that. As for this year's race, I like the course a lot better than last season. I think it is a good one from me."

Rabobank have quite a solid team, and he gave his estimation of how some of the riders will perform. "I don't know about Oscar [Freire], he is a very special person. I am sure he will take a stage or two. Thomas [Dekker] is doing his first Tour; he knows he is here to gain experience and to ride in the service of the team. Denis [Menchov] is obviously in good form after his performances in Catalunya and the Dauphiné. He is right where he should be, in terms of his condition. We will see how far he can take it."

Mayo and Millar Tour ready

Iban Mayo (Saunier Duval-Prodir)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

David Millar and Iban Mayo, who met today with a cadre of journalists prior to Saturday's start to the Tour de France, are confident and ready for action according to their team.

"I'm excited about tomorrow's race," said Millar, a favorite for the opening prologue. "I don't know what's going to happen, but I'm a bit worried because I fell during the Tour de Romandie in May. But I'm highly motivated, and that's enough. The prologue parcours doesn't require special technical skills, so results can surprise us. However, I can tell that the big favourites are Cancellara, Wiggins, Zabriskie, Schumacher and me."

Iban Mayo, on the other hand, is going into the Tour more relaxed than ever. He expects the best possible outcome. "In the last three years, the Tour wasn't what I'd expected. I suffered falls, diseases, etc. but this time I've done everything to put in a good performance," said Mayo.

"I'm very excited about the Tour and I think I'm more relaxed now. I believe I can be well positioned, although I know very well that everybody arrives here in excellent shape," he added. "To me, this is a different Tour because now I'm wearing a different jersey. When I defended Euskaltel's colours, I felt I was under some pressure, given the number of fans this team have. I know people still support me, so I'll start the Tour with the same hope as ever but more relaxed."

Mayo, Millar, and their teammates will don special jerseys with the statement "100 years for a million trees" for the team's initiative of planting one tree in desert areas in Mali for every kilometre ridden by team riders this season.

See also: Cyclingnews' pre-Tour interview with David Millar.

Who will wear #1?

By Wendy Booher

Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne) finished #2 in 2006
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

The prologue of the Tour de France starts Saturday in London and while there will be a noticeable absence of some celebrated names in cycling, most noticeable will be the lack of a number "1".

Traditionally the number belongs to the previous year's champion or to a member of his team. Floyd Landis should wear the number 1 this year, yet USADA will not rule in time for Landis to race this year's Tour [A verdict is expected this weekend. - ed.].

This will be the first time in more than 100 years of the Tour de France that there will be no #1.

"We are still taking into account the 2006 General Classification: Landis is absent; Phonak doesn't exist; so Pereiro will wear the first number, or any rider that Caisse d'Epargne chooses, which will be number 11," said Jean-Francois Pescheux, race director for this year's Tour to L'Equipe. "We couldn't start with numbers 2-10 since it poses difficulty to have numbers with zeroes (10-20-30-40...). It is simpler to start from 11. Caisse d'Epargne will be numbered from 11-19."

There are no UCI regulations to address this situation for ProTour events.

"The organizers have the liberty to do anything they want with regard to this matter," said Alain Rumpf, the manager of the ProTour at the UCI to L'Equipe.

Organizers for the Giro d'Italia faced the same problem after 2006 winner Ivan Basso did not compete while being under investigation for doping. Basso later confessed his involvement with the Operación Puerto affair May 8. Instead, reigning World road champion, Paolo Bettini got to wear #1.

Tour de 'Toona features team time trial start

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor

This year's Tour de 'Toona, one of the longest-running stage races in North America, is adding a unique twist to the race by beginning with a 17.1km team time trial along a soon-to-be-opened stretch of highway in south central Pennsylvania.

"We had one back in 1992 when we had the Olympic Trials," said interim race director Larry Bilotto. "At that time we did it on a section of what became I-99 and this year we are doing it 60 miles north of that on a soon-to-be-opened section of I-99."

The parcours for the TTT will be wide and smooth, as the highway will eventually be home to 18-wheeled trucks and other high-speed traffic. "PennDot has been building from Altoona to State College," said Bilotto. "It's a corridor that everyone is excited to see and we are able to use it free from traffic for a 10-mile loop."

While the cyclists will certainly enjoy this rare treat of riding on a completely traffic-free, 24-foot wide section of superhighway, the 4% grade up two miles will separate the teams. "I've heard indirectly that several of the teams are excited to be doing this," said Bilotto. The winning team will elect a team leader to wear the yellow jersey for the first road stage.

Quickstep-Innergetic for Österreich Rundfahrt

Quickstep-Innergetic announced its roster for the Österreich Rundfahrt, July 8-15. It will include Dmitry Grabovskiy, Ivan Santaromita, Geert Verheyen, Kevin Seeldraeyers, Davide Viganò, Jurgen Van De Walle, Andrea Tonti and Maarten Wynants, all under the guidance of directeurs sportif Luca Guercilena and Davide Bramati.

Australian women's program gets new support

Cycling Australia, Apis Consulting Group, and Performgroup partnered to announce a new national women's road cycling development program aimed at supporting the development of Australia's most promising female road cyclists in their quest for future gold medal success.

Cycling Australia's National High Performance Manager Kevin Tabotta said that Cycling Australia had identified a gap in the development of women's road cycling as a consequence of limited opportunities for international competition.

"Until now female cyclists have not had a complete developmental pathway due to a gap between the state institute programs and AIS elite development programs," said Tabotta. "The ability to support Australia's most promising women cyclists has long been a goal of the high performance program."

The inaugural Performgroup National Women's Road Cycling Team was announced Thursday at a media conference in Canberra. The team will be coached during their European Tour by Paul Brosnan and Michele Vermande. Team members are Louise Kerr, Kate Mercer, Peta Mullens, Ruth Corset, Belinda Goss, and Tiffany Cromwell.

National women's cycling coach Warren McDonald said the women had been selected based on both their performance over a number of national races earlier this year and the growth benefit that inclusion in the team would bring to each team member.

"The women will travel to our European training camp where they will compete in a number of European races and be exposed to an international training and racing environment," said McDonald.

Before departing on July 12 for their tour of Europe, the team will undertake a specifically designed Performgroup program aimed at building an exceptional team experience. Designed to fast track healthy team function and member respect the highly interactive and experiential four day training program will also cover presentation, media and sponsorship training.

Apis Consulting Group will fund travel, accommodation, living expenses, and access to various sports science and athlete support services.

New Allentown race supports Hall of Fame relocation bid

As part of an effort to lure the US Bicycling Hall of Fame, Allentown, Pennsylvania, will host a pro race on September 9 through its downtown district. The inaugural event will feature a variety of categories and kids races tackling a 1 km loop as part of the Downtown Allentown Criterium.

''The primary goal here is to bring a little attention to downtown Allentown, and bring another high-quality event to downtown Allentown,'' said Joseph McDermott, vice president of the International Cycling Center and a former city spokesman to The Morning Call.

The US Bicycling Hall of Fame now lives in Somerville, New Jersey, but it suffers from a lack of funding and has no permanent display space. It now lives in several mobile displays at various tracks nationwide.

Spokesman and board member Rich Reitman said to the Hall of Fame would be housed, at least temporarily in the National Sports Museum being built in New York City. He added that the organization is considering Allentown although it would prefer to stay in Somerville, where it was founded.

''It can be located anywhere that is appropriate,'' Reitman said to The Morning Call. ''Among the appropriate places that we've talked about over the years, Allentown is certainly one of them. The area is a hub of cycling, as is Colorado Springs.''

Boart Longyear to sponsor Tasmania Christmas Carnivals

Boart Longyear has signed on a sponsor of the international/national athlete attraction program for the Christmas Carnival Series held annually in Tasmania, Australia. The company serves global drilling and exploration customers in industries such as mining, environmental, geotechnical, construction, groundwater and energy.

The new sponsorship is designed to address the decreasing numbers of athletes attending the carnival series. Its goal is to attract more big names to the events.

Fantasy Le Tour - Plenty of time left to join

(Click for larger image)

With the Prologue in London marking the beginning of this year's Tour de France, you might think there's no time left to join the game here at Cyclingnews. However, you can still enter teams until Stage 4 begins on Wednesday, July 11.

Unlike most Fantasy games, this gives you the chance to try out the game for free and experiment with different strategies without having to pay for mistakes. If you don't get time to create your teams before Saturday's start you can still take part with just as good a chance of winning as a manager who joined before the Prologue began. Just make sure you register and finalise your teams before Stage 4 begins. Remember the deadline is 10am (Paris local time - UTC+2 or GMT+2) on Wednesday, July 11

Choosing your mountains and sprints riders

In what's set to be the most wide open Tour in decades picking your team of 15 riders couldn't be more challenging. If you are relatively new to the Tour, it can be a daunting prospect choosing your 15 riders from Saturday's start list of over 200 riders. You need to choose your riders carefully for all four elements of the game. The new ranking system can tell you some of the answers you need to know based on last year's results.

Here's some direct links to real life riders that scored well in the 2006 Le Tour Fantasy Game: Top 2006 Mountains Riders, Top 2006 Sprinters, Top 2006 Genreral Classification Riders, Top 2006 Stage Points Riders. Go to the Top Pro Riders page and click on the "How to find top climbers/mountains and sprinters/points riders" link at the top of the page to reveal more. All you need to do now is bring this information up to date by reading the News here at Cyclingnews for this year's Le Tour!

Fantasy upgraded

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

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

  • 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 imporve 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.
  • New stage selection system to make sure you never miss a stage pick again.

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. 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.

Even better prizes!

Win a Cervélo Soloist Carbon
Photo ©: Tim de Waele/TDW Sport
(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 honored).

The roster of prizes so far is as follows:

  • Grand Prize from Cervelo Soloist Carbon CSC team replica bicycle worth $4,750 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 tour.

10 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 Fantasy Le Tour all about?

BBB's BSG-23 Winner Team Quickstep glasses
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. 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. Remember you can still enter teams until stage 4 begins. You can re-edit and re-enter teams for stages 1-3 of the Le Tour 2007 competition up until stage 4 begins. Unlike most Fantasy games, this gives you the chance to try out the game for FREE and experiment with different strategies without having to pay for mistakes.

If you join the Tour after the start date you can still take part with just as good a chance of winning as a manager who joined before Stage 1. Try out a team today! For more details register for free now. It's a great way to follow Le Tour 2007.

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