First Edition Cycling News for July 11, 2007
Edited by Greg Johnson & Paul Verkuylen
Long odds don't pay for Unibet.com
By Greg Johnson
Legal action brought on Tour de France organiser, Amaury Sport Organization (ASO), by the Unibet.com ProTour team has been thrown out of a court in Nanterre, on the outskirts of Paris, France. The ProTour squad was appealing its non-invitation to this year's Tour, which commenced in London last weekend, which it in theory has the right to contest due to its status as a ProTour team.
"Harassed by this series of legal procedures, which have often been led with the full support of the UCI, ASO, as a race organizer, is comforted by the decisions taken," declared a statement from ASO after the case was thrown out.
The failed legal action is the latest happening in a season-long battle between the two organisations, with ASO, which operates some of the world's biggest cycling events, refusing the squads participation due to its sponsor being illegal in France. The promotion of unauthorized online gambling company, such as Unibet.com, is illegal in France and inviting the squad to participate in its events would see ASO answerable to authorities, the organisation has claimed.
"If someone is to blame for the broken promises that were made to Unibet, then its not us but UCI," ASO president Patrice Clerc told AP. "It's really not our problem. We're trying to do our job as responsible, law-abiding race organizers.
"For me, the UCI's attitude is incomprehensible," added Clerc.
With the European Commission backing Unibet and saying that laws such as those found in France are both monopolistic and against EC regulations, many see the real reason as being the power struggle between the UCI and the Grand Tour organisers. The Unibet.com squad even offered to race under Canyon.com sponsorship on French soil, in order to start the important ProTour races its been kept from, however ASO refused to yield.
Tuesday's appeal was the third by Unibet.com, having already taken the matter to courts in Brussels and Lille. Bookmakers Review reported that Unibet's CEO Petter Nylander was planning to sue a series of race organisers, including ASO, for some 100 million Euros.
While Unibet.com reaps the rewards of constant headlines over the legal disputes, the team's holding company, Green Cycle Associates AB, and its riders have been forced to watch on as its rivals tackle some of the world's largest events. Some of Unibet.com's riders were reportedly prevented from riding their national championships as apart of the fallout over the gambling sponsorship issue last month.
Rodriguez soldiers on, Steegmans injured
By Shane Stokes in Compiegne, France
Fred Rodriguez (Predictor-Lotto) said he was still pretty beat up following Tuesday's Stage 3, having been involved in the massive pileup on the previous day's stage. "I'm pretty sore from the crash yesterday," he said after rolling across the finish line, his arm bearing a big bandage. "My shoulder and my hip are niggling at me. I wanted to help out Robbie [McEwen] really badly today but I wasn't at 100 percent. I also didn't have the confidence to fight. It was disappointing."
Stage two winner Gert Steegmans was another who came a cropper, suffering a fall on the road to Compiege. "I am not really super after the crash," the Stage 2 winner said. "I hope I will be okay tomorrow. It is actually my upper leg [that is affecting him]. On the cobbles when I go hard I lack a little something."
Steegmans spent Monday evening celebrating his Gent success. "We had a little party but not too long, because we had a race this morning."
Team CSC has had an excellent showing thus far in the Tour de France, with Fabian Cancellara taking two stage wins and holding the yellow jersey since day one. The riders were understandably happy at the finish on Tuesday. "That is really nice, hey?" said team leader Carlos Sastre. "The stage was long, boring, it was a headwind, but in the end it was very good for us."
Jens Voigt was also impressed with how things turned out. "Between five and two kilometres to go I said 'ah, it's too late, they are gone'. But then we had Fabian, he was our Joker. It was an incredible effort."
"We didn't have to work too much today," added Voigt. "The speed was easy and calm. I actually did enjoy it. It was a little boring, but as I say, better boring than painful."
Team owner Bjarne Riis normally guides the squad but is missing from this year's Tour after his doping confession at the end of May. Kim Andersen is the chief of command, and things have worked out very well. "It is good, yes," he told Cyclingnews. "When you have a team like this it is nice. The mood is good." SS
Tour riders tested
By Gregor Brown in Compiègne, France
The Tour de France's Sporting Safety and Condition Commission bodies carried out blood checks on 53 riders Tuesday morning before the start of State 3. All riders were declared fit to start the stage from Waregem to Compiègne. UCI anti-doping inspector Marc Vandevyvere saw to the testing of six teams - Astana, Predictor-Lotto, Française Des Jeux, Ag2r Prévoyance, Discovery Channel and T-Mobile - between the hours of 7:20 and 8:40.
The blood tests, performed on riders such as Alexander Vinokourov, Robbie McEwen, Philippe Gilbert and George Hincapie, are apart of normal controls that can be carried out by the UCI during a stage race.
According to UCI and WADA codes, these controls are considered 'in race', which can be performed up to three days before the race start or until midnight on the last day of competition. National federations turn the testing over to the cycling union during stage races, however in May's Giro d'Italia the rules were strangely violated when the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) carried out its own controls.
187 riders are set to start Wednesday's Tour stage, the 193 kilometres route from Villers-Cotterêts to Joigny.
General classification contender Cadel Evans is happy after placing 50th on Stage 3, placing him in 20th overall, 56 seconds behind race leader Fabian Cancellara (Team CSC). The Predictor Lotto rider told Cyclingnews that things are well.
"I am getting on alright," he said. "Those cobbles at the finish were a bit of a surprise but all the group was together and there were no crashes.
"I am feeling okay so far, but it is a bit early to tell yet," he added. "I think the hilly stage on Thursday will be the first chance to see." SS
Milram happenings in Gent
By Susan Westemeyer
Team Milram had a busy day in Gent on Tuesday, with an unplanned trip to the dentist. Ralf Grabsch probably didn't enjoy his time in Belgium too much, after breaking a filling during the second stage. The rider was munching down on a power bar that had turned hard from the cool weather when the incident occurred. He made a quick visit to a Belgian dentist early Tuesday to have it taken care of, prior to the day's stage.
Christian Knees, on the other hand, enjoyed his Gent experience more. Knees' wife, Nathalie, was there Monday afternoon, along with the couple's daughter, Fenja, who was celebrating her one-week birthday.
Team Astana will have to order one of its turquoise and yellow trikots in XX Small, for little David Katschetschkin. Papa Andrej got the news Monday just a few kilometers after the start that wife Nadja had given birth to the couple's 3.2 kilo son in Nice. SW
T-Mobile targeting Tankink
T-Mobile has expressed its interest in Dutch rider Bram Tankink, who is currently riding for Quickstep-Innergetic. "We are very interested in Tankink," confessed T-Mobile team manager Bob Stapleton to Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad. "He would fit perfectly in our team. I also think he would fit more into our team then for instance at Rabobank. He would get more freedom here"
Tankink is hoping to make a decision over his future during this month's Tour de France. He has the option to renew with his current team Quickstep-Innergetic. as well as offers on the table from T-Mobile and Dutch outfit Rabobank.
T-Mobile is also interested in the Dutch Time Trial Champion Stef Clement, Stapleton confirmed. The only issue is his contract with current team Bouygues Telecom, which does not end until the end of next year.
Klöden not happy with Jaksche
Jörg Jaksche is not the most popular rider in the German peloton after his doping confession. Andreas Klöden (Astana), who currently holds second place overall in the Tour de France, is annoyed with his countryman after the suspended Tinkoff rider confessed to doping according to his website andreas-kloeden.com. "It irritates me that some riders only come forward to confess to doping when they are offered a lot of money to do so, and self proclaim themselves as the rescuer of the cycling world, when they lied and deceived us all for many years," Klöden explained to Dutch paper Algemeen Dagblad.
Gerolsteiner's Fabian Wegmann mirrored Klöden's sentiments in an interview with German television ARD. "It's a slap in the face," he stated. "He messed things up for years on end making money along the way. Now he talks about morals and ethics. That I can't stand."
Spezialetti to meet CONI on Thursday
Italian Alessandro Spezialetti (Liquigas) is due to face the Italian Olympic Commission's (CONI) anti-doping committee this Thursday, regarding his involvement in the 'Oil for drugs' case, according to Sports Wereld. The case began in 2004 after it was alleged that fraudulent doctor Carlo Santuccione was supplying athletes with doping products.
Besides the 32 year-old Italian, Eddy Mazzoleni (Astana) and this year's Giro d'Italia winner Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) have also been implicated and will appear this Friday and Saturday respectively.
'Doctor Mabuse' slated for court appearance
French soungier Bernard Sainz, known in the cycling world as 'Doctor Mabuse', is due before the French court for possession and sale of doping products, according to French newspaper Le Parisien. While the court has confirmed Sainz's appearance, it's not known exactly when Sainz is due to appear.
Sainz was suspected in the late 1990s to be in the possession of Diprostène, Redoxon, Syncorthyl, testosterone and cortisone. Furthermore, it's alleged he supplied and administered professional cyclists with doping products like EPO and testosterone.
The now 63 year-old become well known when he was stopped by a highway patrol, and found to be in possession of large quantities of doping products. At the time, Sainz said he was leaving Frank Vandenbroucke's home, which lead to the police searching the cyclist's residence, where they found EPO, morphine and clenbuterol.
Ullrich comments on doping confessions
Jan Ullrich has broken his silence, giving an interview in L'Equipe in which he said that he felt he was the scapegoat, who others are using to make money from. "Looking back, it seems as if my suspension didn't help anything," he said. "The problem is not me, but cycling itself."
He refused to confess to doping, and speculated as to why his former teammates Erik Zabel and Rolf Aldag had done so. "I find their comments rather funny, especially when you think what they said about me when they were both presenting themselves as clean," Ullrich added. "I don't owe anyone anything and have enough money to live on until the end of my days. But they probably had to admit their failures in order to keep on working."
In addition, Ullrich said that no one needed to worry about him. "I know that some people think I am on the verge of suicide," he said. "But I'm still here and am very happy with my life." SW
Team DFL Cyclingnews for China
By Paul Verkuylen
Team DFL-Cyclingnews will contest the Tour of Qinghai Lake, starting July 14, with a strong lineup including last year's fourth place overall Daniel Lloyd, who will be hoping to go a few places better this year. Along with the Tour of Austria and Tour de Wallonie in Belgium, the 2.HC rated Tour of Qinghai Lake is one of the highest raking bike races taking place in July outside of the Tour de France.
DFL-Cyclingnews has been riding exceptionally well in the past few weeks, with a series of strong results culminating in a win for Hamish Hayes at Belgium's Pro Kermesse of Strombeek.
On July 5 Kane Oakley was second behind current Australian champion Darren Lapthorne at the Pro Kermesse in Melle. The pair got away towards the end of the race and held off the main field to the finish. "With a lap to go I attacked over the bridge, Darren Lapthorne came with me," explained an enthusiastic Oakley, who was glad his parents were present to witness the result, in his Cyclingnews diary. "We worked well together to stay away from the chase, thanks to some good work from teammate Skruf. It came down to a sprint to the line, I fell a bit short and ended up second."
Two days later in Strombeek, motivated by the strong result earlier in the week the Team lined up for another hard race. Things were not looking good for the two DFL Cyclingnews riders coming into the final three kilometers. "Two guys got a good gap on us before the windy overpass," noted Oakley. "Everyone just looked at each other and the gap grew to 200. Thinking I might just have enough left in the tank, I dragged them back and set Hamish up for the sprint I cranked it up, caught the two guys up the rode and kept going hard until the last corner. With 400m to go, Hamish came off my wheel and started the sprint; holding on to get the first win of the season for team DFL-Cyclingnews."
Team DFL-Cyclingnews leaves for the high-altitude Chinese tour today. The squad's first victory of the season will be a strong motivator for the riders, who will face tough competition from squads like Discovery Channel, Jittery Joes'and FRF Couriers NSWIS.
DFL-Cyclingnews Tour of Qinghai Lake roster: Daniel Lloyd, Dan Fleeman, Juan Pablo Wilches Rodriguez, Gert Vanderaerden, Rhys Pollock, Kane Oakley and Cameron Jennings.
Government bale out Gippsland
The Victorian State Government has committed $85,000 to the Tour of Gippsland from its Ministerial Flood Recovery Taskforce package to ensure the regional event continues. The areas in which the stage race is held were recently battered by severe weather, resulting in extensive flooding throughout the region.
"Sport and tourism play a huge role in shaping regional communities and we are keen to play our role in ensuring this fantastic Gippsland event is kept alive to help get sports and tourism back up and thriving in this part of the state," said State Premier Steve Bracks. "This is a race that has been running since 1996 and has hosted Olympic and Commonwealth Games medallists. This year will again see some of the country's finest road racers compete when the race takes place from August 1-5."
Bracks said funding through the taskforce would go towards saving the prestigious Tour of Gippsland race, helping drive tourism in the area following the recent floods.
"Local sporting organisations are often the cornerstone of regional communities and we want to make sure they continue to be now, and into the future," added sport and recreation minister James Merlino. "The Tour of Gippsland is an excellent example of how the Bracks government's investment in sports can produce beneficial spin-offs in other aspects of communities."
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2007)