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First Edition Cycling News for July 10, 2007

Edited by Greg Johnson, Paul Verkuylen & Laura Weislo

Team staff to sign new UCI agreement

UCI President Pat McQuaid
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The UCI has announced a new charter that it will require all team managers and staff to sign as a part of the governing body's ongoing efforts to combat the sport's doping problem. The announcement of the new agreement follows on from a similar charter launched on June 19 for riders, which participants of the Tour de France were required to sign in order to compete.

UCI president Pat McQuaid has written to all UCI ProTour team manages requesting they, and their staff, sign the news "Managers' and other team staff's commitment to a new cycling".

"In signing the document, they promise never to encourage a cyclist in their team to dope himself, nor to turn a blind eye to any doping activities that occur within their team," declared a statement from the body announcing the new agreement. "They also undertake to set up measures to ensure that there is no doping in their team (managers) or to help put these measures into action (other staff members), and to co-operate if necessary with authorities in the fight against doping."

Similar to the riders commitment launched last month, the names of all managers and staff members, which extends to team doctors, who have signed the document will be published on the UCI's website.

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"If the pledge is broken, staff members who have signed the declaration agree to pay an amount equal to their annual salary to the fight against doping, which will be managed by the Council for the Fight Against Doping (CFAD), an organization which includes representatives of the riders and of the teams," continued the release.

The new document must be signed by all team personnel by August 1, according to the organisation.

Stage 2 reactions

Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana): The Kazakh GC favourite was fortunate enough to avoid the late stage crash, and came across the line blessing himself. A relieved Vinokourov said, "It's always the same stress in the peloton. And the rain didn't help us at all. I hope it will be better these next days. I'm lucky not to have been involved in the massive fall just before the finish line. But I had to brake very hard."

Francisco Ventoso (Saunier-Duval): The team of the red bird's sprinter hasn't had much luck these past two days. In stage one, he was about to start his sprint when Robbie McEwen brushed past, and today he fell victim to the wreck at the two kilometre mark. "I just couldn't avoid the crash. I tried to brake, but there was nowhere I could ride through. And even if I'd managed to stay on my bike, I would've been caught by those coming behind. I was feeling good and confident, well-placed, but this is what you expect of this kind of finales. I fell on my bike, and I think most of my injuries came from hitting it. I've injured my knee and my elbow, and my hand hurts badly, I can't rest it on a table. But I'm really worried about my hip. I hope it's nothing serious, but I can tell I'm having a hard time walking."

Eusebio Unzúe (Caisse d'Epargne manager):"We knew that the stage would be a very difficult one because of the wind and the rain. In the final there was also the tension provoked by the preparation of the sprint and there was a spectacular crash. For us, fortunately, the day was not so bad. As for now, our main goal is to avoid the crashes and to avoid losing time. The day was ok for us, except for Xabier Zandio who finished the stage with a very painful wrist as a consequence of his crash of yesterday. This evening we will go to the hospital so that he makes a radiography, hoping that nothing is broken and that he can go on with tranquility."

Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne): "The public was incredible here on the Belgian roads and it was something very beautiful, but at the same time very dangerous because sometimes the people were standing in the middle of the road. It was the typical Belgian stage, with a lot of wind, that requires being very cautious, but at the end everything was ok for us. What is very dangerous in such a stage is that a crash or a break can always cause you lose plenty of time, but we were lucky and arrived in good conditions in Gent."

Michael Rogers (T-Mobile): "The first week of the Tour is always a mine-field. It is really dangerous in the hurly-burly of the bunch sprints - it just takes a clip of wheels and half the peloton can come crashing down like dominoes," said the Aussie in his diary on "You hope it won't happen, but it does and unfortunately Mark was one of the worst affected in today's pile-up. I was lucky not to get caught up in the chaos - though I did get stuck behind it, where I had to wait for the road to clear before crossing the line. As the pile-up was with the final 3 km mark, the jury gave us all the winner's time. It's the least they could do!"

Kim Kirchen (T-Mobile): "The stage was pretty windy and the bunch stayed together. It was a pretty hard final again and very dangerous. Everyone has good legs and wants to ride in the front."

Robbie McEwen (Predictor-Lotto): "I just missed that big crash and I think a couple of my teammates went straight into it. After that I was just too far back in the line and couldn't move up. I didn't feel that good. I seem to have pain all over but the wrist wasn't too bad. It was actually my right knee that caused the most pain. At the end, when it should have been safe, that was when the huge crash happened. I caught a bike on my arm, I somehow got through on the left but I was a long, long way back. Both my knees are hurting and I feel like I'm sitting sideways on the bike. That's putting pressure on my left knee. I didn't feel real good all day. Still, I tried and hopefully I can keep improving over the next few days."

Vaitkus out after thumb surgery

Discovery Channel's Tomas Vaitkus will not start today's Stage 3, after sustaining five unstable fractures of the right thumb in yesterday's end-of-stage pileup. The Lithuanian underwent an overnight operation Monday at a hospital in Waregem, with doctors inserting a plate into his thumb.

"This is a huge disappointment for Thomas," Discovery sports director Dirk de Mol told Sports Wereld. "He was so happy to be riding the Tour for the first time, and was therefore very motivated."

A riders entered the closing kilometres of yesterday's Stage 2, the bunch swerved to the right, causing a Milram rider to clip the wheel of another rider. Contact within the sprint-ready peloton caused a domino effect, with riders blocking the entire road as they hit the deck. Yellow jersey holder Fabian Cancellara (Team CSC) was amongst those caught in the anarchy, as was star sprinter Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole) and American Freddie Rodriguez (Predictor-Lotto).

Other riders involved in the crash, included American George Hincapie (Discovery Channel), who hurt his left knee but is able to start tomorrow, Italian Daniel Bennati (Lampre-Fondital) was taken to hospital with suspected broken ribs, but will start today's stage after X-rays cleared the rider of any broken bones.

Rodriguez's Predictor Lotto teammate Leif Hoste was also caught in the crumble, both riders have also been cleared by doctors to start today's stage. Rodriguez sustained two deep cut to his left elbow, which required stitches, as well as grazes on his lower body. Belgian Hoste was taken to hospital with an injury to his right knee, which has been cleared as the meniscus was not hit. A decision on Hoste's continued participation in the race will be made later today.

Cancellara had crossed the line nursing his arm, causing rumours to circulate that he had broken his collar bone, but has since revealed it was the shock of the crash that made him think he'd sustained an injury. "After I finished the stage and got some dry clothes on and got warm, I felt fine again," he said.

Feillu France's new top sprinter?

By Jean-François Quénet in Gent

French teams usually line up a young gun in the Tour de France because freshness pays off when the time comes to be excited by the huge crowds for the first time. Agritubel had no problem choosing Romain Feillu for their Tour squad after he won the Boucles de l'Aulne and one stage of the Tour of Luxembourg in June. These results extended out of a strong spring for the 23 year-old neo-pro. He began the season aggressively, picking up a top ten at the Tour of Qatar, and another at Paris-Nice, where he also thrilling the schoolboys of his sister's class in Cloyes-sur-le-Loir with a early breakaway in stage one that lead until the last kilometre.

"I don't want to waste my time in the bunch," he said in March, explaining his philosophy of cycling. The Tour de France is another story. "Coming twice fifth in the first two bunch sprints teaches me that I can wait for the bunch sprint finishes and do something there," he explained on the finishing line in Gent. "I'm more confident now. I've showed that I can become a good sprinter. In France, there is a spot to be filled up, I'd like to do it. In one or two years time, with muscle work out, I should improve."

For different reasons, France's recent Tour stage winning sprinters, Jean-Patrick Nazon and Jimmy Casper, aren't riding the Tour this year, and Feillu is trying to fill that void. "I'm told I don't have the format of a sprinter but I don't care about that," Feillu said. At 1.74m tall and 62kg, Feillu is called 'le petit Feillu', but he showed his world class standard when he came second to Gerald Ciolek at last year's U23 world championship in Salzburg, Austria.

He had signed for Agritubel before that result, coming from the successful French amateur club of Nogent-sur-Oise in Picardy (the region where the Tour de France arrives on stage three in Compiègne), but he rode for Agritubel sponsored VC Loudun previously. He wasn't ready to turn pro when the tubes manufacturer started their pro team in 2005. Because of a scooter accident when he was a kid, he had to undergo an operation to get his right leg longer at the same size as the left one. "I'm happy that I didn't turn pro too early", the 23 years old said. "But I also don't want to lose any time in my career." France has a very determined sprinter now, although his physique is far from looking as impressive as Tom Boonen's or Thor Hushovd's.

O'Grady: It never rains but it pours

By John Trevorrow in Gent, Belgium

CSC's Stuart O'Grady gets direction
Photo ©:
(Click for larger image)

Stuart O'Grady is still feeling the effects of his Prologue crash on Saturday after another tough day at the office. The Australian had been setting a blistering speed in London when he clipped a barrier and fell to the ground, a mistake he's still paying for.

"It never rains but it pours - what a day," said O'Grady. :"I'm still pretty sore and I was hoping to get a day where I could get a bit of recovery in. But it was never going to happen on a day like today. With the technical route and the wet roads, we decided that we needed to be up the front, the problem was most of the other teams thought the same.

"The conditions were harder than Chinese algebra," he continued. "It was a very stressful stage and then to lose three guys in the finale made it even worse. Luckily they're not too bad and Fabio has got another day in yellow. As Leonard Cohen wrote, "I'm aching in the places where I used to play". I'm feeling sore in muscles I didn't even know I had!"

O'Grady, who became the first Australian Paris-Roubaix victor in April, is hoping to fully recover from his Saturday tumble before the Grand Tour hits the first mountain stage this Saturday. While he's hoping for some time to recover, O'Grady knows today's Stage 3 will be just as tough as yesterday's crash-marred stage.
"You would think a day on the flat with the sprinters teams controlling the race would make life pretty easy? Not in Belgium," he said. "With the narrow roads and tight corners, mixed with a deluge from above and you have the recipe for disaster.

"There is no doubt the tour just gets faster and more riders are trying to get up the front these days," he concluded. "It just makes for stress, stress, stress."

Schumacher recovering from cold

By Shane Stokes in Gent

Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Gerolsteiner's Stefan Schumacher says he's starting to recover from a cold which he's endured during the opening stages of his Tour de France debut. "Yesterday I didn't feel so good, today a bit better," the German told Cyclingnews. "I have been sick with a cold. The prologue was not so nice for me, it was really s**t. I had very heavy legs.

"It was nervous all day because it was windy," he admitted. "In the final there was the rain and it was not so funny. The crash happened but I was not involved - I was lucky."

He took two stage wins in the Giro d'Italia last season and would like to land one at the Tour this year. He's not sure how soon that will be, though. "First off I said that the fifth stage was good for me and maybe I have a chance to win it, but now I have to see how my legs are," he said. "I hope they will be going better and better."

Corti glad to return

By Tim Maloney

Team Barloworld general manager Claudio Corti
Photo ©: Tim Maloney
(Click for larger image)

Team Barloworld general manager Claudio Corti is one happy guy after snagging a start in this year's Tour de France with his British-registered, Italy-based, South African-backed squad. Having been involved with the Tour on many occasions while at the helm of Team Saeco, Corti was left without a team in last year's 2006 Tour after his squad was absorbed into the Lampre team and he's glad to be back at the prestigious Grand Tour in 2007. "This is my 14th Tour and I'm very glad to be back", Corti said. "We have worked hard to build this team and had a good year in 2007 with Barloworld and our 12 wins have shown the Tour organizers that we are the Continental Pro team that deserves to be invited."

While his squad lacks the big names of its Tour counterparts, Corti is hopeful that his Robbie Hunter-lead team will take a stage victory. Hunter has already been mixing with the peloton's pointy end, having finished fourth in Stage 2's Quickstep-Innergetic dominated sprint finish. "We will try our hardest to do something here; perhaps a stage win could happen and if the race is wide open we may even have a rider for a decent ride for the GC, but we won't know more until the Alps," he said.

"This is the 10th year I have worked with Cannondale and they just delivered all the new Super Six team bikes for the Tour," said Corti, proudly showing off the squad's bikes. "The riders are really happy to have these new all carbon fibre models for the race."

Worlds participants must sign anti-doping charter

By Paul Verkuylen

Riders wishing to take part in September's World Championships, which will be hosted by the German city of Stuttgart, will be required to sign the UCI's anti doping charter to be eligible to compete. The event has followed the Tour de France organiser's lead by forcing all participants to sign the charter.

The decision was made after a meeting between the UCI and German secretary of the interior Wolfgang Schäuble. The German minister has publically lodged his concern over the sport's doping scandals, and the consequences that they may have on the World Championships. The German government is believed to have even considered canceling the event altogether at one point. "The world championships in Stuttgart were found to be in a critical situation," said Schäuble. "It has not been excluded by the organizers [until they] come together again to discuss the event. Perhaps they will come to the conclusion that it is necessary to cancel the event."

Schäuble went on to explain that Eric Zabel's admission to taking EPO came as a big blow, and may be the cause of his sudden apprehension. "Erik Zabel is in Germany always worshipped as a hero, but that he is allowed to ride this years Tour the France, I don't understand," he said. "I always looked with interest towards the Tour, but I no longer have an interest in it. I don't believe in it anymore. I am against lifelong suspensions, but the cycling world must take measures to improve its image."

Proof of systematic doping at Mapei?

Documents have surfaced in Italy which offer proof of systematic doping by the defunct Italian Team Mapei, according to German television station ARD. During the 2001 season riders where systematically taking drugs such as EPO, testosterone, anabolic steroids, and also most likely synthetic insulin, the documents allegedly reveal.

No riders were named in the documents, according to the reports. Many riders taking part in this year's Tour de France were members of the 2001 Mapei team, including the current bearer of the yellow jersey and Time Trial World Champion Fabian Cancellara (Team CSC) and Italian world champion Paolo Bettini (Quickstep-Innergetic).

Vogels breaks collarbone at Infineon

Toyota United's Henk Vogels in pain
Photo ©: Toyota-United
(Click for larger image)

Toyota-United's Henk Vogels will spend six weeks out of action, having broken his collarbone at the weekend's Cougar Mountain Classic. The Australian rider had been attempting to bridge to a break in the criterium when he struck a crowd control fence at the Infineon Raceway venue.

"My shoulder hit it and I heard it snap," recalled Vogels. "Hopefully, it's more on the six weeks side. Fortunately, it was a clean break so I didn't have to have an operation."

When the break containing teammate Ivan Dominguez lapped the field, the Cuban sprinter started searching for his lead-out man. "It never crossed my mind that he was no longer in the race," Dominguez said.

"You deflate when you're rolling through the finish and see your teammate lying on the ground," added Ryan Miller.

Toyota-United manager Kirk Willett described the loss of Vogels as a huge blow. "He is one of the best in the world at what he does," Willett said. "The fact that he has played a pivotal role all year in delivering Stevic and Dominguez to so many top placings makes our pursuit of the Team NRC title an even greater challenge. We are going to have to fill a big horsepower and leadership hole as a team."

The squad hopes a speedy recovery by Vogels will see him return to action by September - just in time for the inaugural Tour of Missouri. "I'm optimistic that with any luck, a speedy recovery will see Henk able to start training within a month and racing in late August or early September," Willett concluded.

FRF Couriers NSWIS for China

By Paul Verkuylen

FRF Couriers-NSWIS is focusing on the upcoming 2.HC Tour of Qinghai Lake, having registered a strong showing in May's RAS Tour in Ireland, which saw FRF NSWIS team captain Peter McDonald take third overall and Jason Hegert finished in 12th. The Australian continental team will lineup against the likes of ProTour squad Discovery Channel at the Chinese event, starting on July 14.

The Asia Tour is a major focus for the New South Wales team this season. Team manager Andrew Potress sees the tour as a good development ground for the young riders. "The Asian races, especially Qinghai Lake are good for the young riders to gain experience and exposure," he explained. "Before hopefully moving onto bigger things in Europe."

Andrew sees the team as a development squad for talented young Australian riders. "With Australia having so many talented rider, we wanted to create a means for these guys to progress into bigger pro team, and with the South team being so hard to get a spot in, we wanted to help develop these rider, so they don't get lost in the system," he said.

With ties to the junior development squads, Real Aussie kids and the Illawarra Academy of Sport, the future looks bright for the team. It hopes to increase the budget for next season, with the help of new sponsors, and also wants to expand its racing calendar to include even more racing in Europe, Asia and the United States of America.

Domestically, Victoria's Sun Tour is a major goal for the team, as is gaining a spot in the January's Tour Down Under. The team, along with other domestic squads, Drapac Porsche and Saving and Loans, is currently working with Cycling Australia to achieve the goal of securing a South Australia start.

FRF Couriers-NSWIS' Tour of Qinghai Lake roster: Peter McDonald, Peter Herzig, Brendan Brooks, John Ebeling, Rob Lyte, Robert Cater and Jason Hegert.

Fantasy Le Tour game - registration closes soon

(Click for larger image)

Entry deadline: There's no disadvantage to joining the game now. You can 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 didn't get time to create your teams before Saturday's start you can still take part now 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 Wednesday 11th July at 10am (Paris local time - UTC+2 or GMT+2).

Manager Sucking Wind with his team Keystone 1 from the USA wins the third of 21 daily stage prizes - a pair of BBB's BSG-23 Winner Team Quick-Step glasses. There will be 32 prize winners with over 40 prizes making up this year's roster.

Need Help Choosing Riders?

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

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 from Saturday's start list of over 200 participants. You need to choose your riders carefully for all 4 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:

There are loads of other sources of rider selection information right here on Cyclingnews:
1). Read our Tour News on each stage so far to see who's on form.
2). Read our Features to find out inside info on the riders.
3). Read up on the next stage so you know what type of stage is coming. Is it a relatively flat stage, a mountains stage or a Time Trial? Select your sprinters, climbers or GC riders accordingly.
4). Look at the strategy advice given by previous winners of the game in the tips & tactics section of the site.
5). There's also more strategy advice from players of the game in the forum.
6). Watch our official le Tour videos everyday.
7). Follow the stages live as it happens right here at Cyclingnews.

Even better prizes!

BBB's BSG-23 Winner Team Quickstep glasses
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 honored). The roster of prizes so far is as follows:

Grand Prize: Cervelo Soloist Carbon CSC team 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: 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 - x10 on offer
  • Speedplay - Zero stainless steel pedals - 3 sets on offer
  • Giro Atmos Helmet - x3 Giro Atmos Helmet

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

What is Fantasy Le Tour all about?

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!

Fantasy upgraded

We've added some great improvements to the game this year:
1. new ranking and results service, offering new depths of rider statistics on races over the last four years.
2. see your friends exact selections in the this year's game as it happens.
3. look up the winning managers team selections for last year to imporve your selection this year.
4. follow the progress of the key fantasy managers whilst also tracking your friends' progress in the new "Watch Teams" tool.
5. build your own Mini-Leagues.
6. 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.
7. 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 and registration has already begun.

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

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