First Edition Cycling News, June 19, 2007
Edited by Ben Abrahams, Greg Johnson and Paul Verkuylen
Three teams interested in Basso
Only two days have passed since the Italian cycling federation (FCI) handed down the maximum sentence of 24 months to Ivan Basso which will see the Italian out of competition until October 2008, but Basso is already making plans for his return to the peloton.
In an interview with the Gazzetta dello Sport, Basso explained how he had made a promise to his daughter to return to win the Giro d'Italia and also revealed he already has offers from three teams requiring his services once his suspension ends.
Basso did not name any of the teams specifically, although ProTour teams are supposedly prohibited from signing a rider found guilty of doping within two years of that rider's return to competition.
2009 Tour de France to start in Monaco
According to Monday's Le Parisien, the 2009 Tour de France will start in Monaco, with the first stage being a 15.2km individual time trial. The French daily newspaper is part of the Amaury group which also owns Tour de France organiser Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO).
The Tour de France regularly holds its opening stages outside of France and race director Christian Prudhomme recently said that roughly three out of every five Tour starts would take place in other countries.
"We have had a lot of bids," Prudhomme told AFP. "Rotterdam and Utrecht, Liege and Flanders, Dusseldorf, Lugano, Budapest, Florence, Monaco, the Basque country ..... even from Estonia and Qatar."
While this year's event kicks off in London, the 2008 race will begin in the Bretagne port city of Brest.
Hincapie talking to T-Mobile?
Johan Bruyneel is looking for a new title sponsor to take over from the departing Discovery Channel, but George Hincapie may not be around to ride for whoever that may be. The American road race champion, whose contract expires the end of this year, is said to be in touch with T-Mobile, but has told his current team leadership that nothing has yet been settled, according to SportWereld.
Luuc Eisenga, technical director for T-Mobile, refused to either confirm or deny the rumours, saying: "It is still too early to name names."
Armstrong fends off latest doping claims
Seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong has been forced to fend off new claims of doping during his historic winning streak, on the eve of the launch of another book by investigative journalist David Walsh titled From Landis to Lance: Inside the American Doping Controversy at the Tour de France. The Irishman's last title on the topic, L.A. Confidential: The Secrets Of Lance Armstrong, was controversial, despite never being published in English, due to allegations that Armstrong had doped during his career.
In a to the point interview with Sports Illustrated, the American has again flatly denied having ever taken performance enhancing drugs.
"Absolutely," confirmed Armstrong to Sports Illustrated when asked if he was clean during all of his Tour victories. "I won the Tour de France once, twice, seven times, because I was the most talented person in the field.
"Say you cheated in '99, and got away with one," he continued. "Remember, in 2000 there was not a test for EPO, and we clobbered everybody. Some would say the entire field was on EPO. But only one athlete, and only one team, was federally investigated in France, had all their samples confiscated and got them tested, by three separate laboratories. So, in 2001, you're saying to yourself, I'm not taking that chance again.
"Then how was it, in 2001, that I went faster? And in 2002 faster still.  was a bad year, but in '04 and '05, I never slowed down. If I cheated, How did I get away with it?"
While publisher Random House hasn't released details surrounding the contents of Walsh's latest work, due to be released next week, it's expected to expand on allegations made in the first book. Unlike his previous work, this one is expected to be published in English and widely distributed.
Zülle picks Rogers for Tour de Suisse
Alex Zülle, winner of the 2002 Tour de Suisse has named Australian Michael Rogers as his favourite to win this year's edition. Zülle, the last Swiss rider to win the event, now works for Tour de Suisse race organisers IMG.
Zülle is still very much involved with cycling - he acts as a talent scout, seeking out young riders from Holland, Spain and Belgium, as well as helping to organise the Swiss race each year. During the event, he is one of the guest drivers for main sponsor Würth.
Zülle has credited Swiss rider Cancellara for his stage victory, and strong showing so far in event, but feels that Beat Zberg has the best chance of any Swiss rider to unseat him as the last Swiss to win the event. "Zberg has the greatest chance, and also probably his last chance this year to win the event," said Zülle, who also noted that Rogers' all round ability makes him the outstanding favourite. "He is strong in the time trial as well as the mountains," said Zülle.
The Swiss star, who has twice finished runner-up in the Tour de France (1995 and 1999) feels that Swiss cycling has a lot to look forward to in the coming years with talents like Oliver Zaugg (Gerolsteiner) and Hubert Schwab (QuickStep). "I hope soon one of them will bring a Swiss victory in the Tour de Suisse," he concluded.
Baden Cooke battles on
Baden Cooke has been in good form in 2007, but nevertheless it's been a tough year thus far. Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes spoke to the Australian.
All going to plan, Baden Cooke would be spending this July chasing a second green jersey in the Tour de France, trying to add to the maillot vert he won in 2003. That's the ideal scenario. Instead, he'll be at home in Monaco, lamenting the absence of the Unibet.com team from the race and getting back on the bike after a bad injury.
Despite some good form, 2007 has been an exercise in frustration for Cooke. Things got off to a good start with victories on Stage 3 of the Tour Down Under and Stage 2 in the Etoile de Bessèges. But Unibet's exclusion from many big races put a dampener on the spring, with the team not being allowed to start top races Paris-Nice, Tirreno Adriatico, Paris-Roubaix, Flèche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Giro d'Italia. Of the 13 ProTour events, they have been blocked from participating in six.
Officially, the reason is due to a complicated legal situation arising from legislation in some countries limiting advertising by gaming companies. But 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.
Cooke is frustrated by this, and also by the bad crash he had in the recent Volta Ciclista a Catalunya. He had shown good form early in the race, finishing fourth on Stage 2 and then second the following day, but hopes that upward rise would continue and lead to a win were dashed on Stage 6 when he hit the deck. Hard.
"It was about four or five kilometres to go," Cooke told Cyclingnews, speaking by phone from his apartment in Monaco. "Everyone [from the team] was around me, helping me. It was a bit wet and we were doing about 80 kilometres per hour downhill. A couple of guys in front touched a wheel and a lot of guys then hit the brakes: as it was so slippery, they fell off. I tried to avoid it, going hard right, but they sort of dominoed across the road.
To read the full interview with Baden Cooke, click here.
Boogerd suffering, Eltink fighing for Tour spot
The Tour de Suisse is the last test for Rabobank before the Tour de France starts on July 7, and although Michael Boogerd came in seven minutes down on Stage 3 winner Alessandro Proni, there is nothing to worry about says team manager Adri van Houwelingen. "He is not yet at his strongest, and that probably won't change during the race. But next week when he is at home, rest will be his priority," explained Van Houwelingen. "Then he will be fully recovered from the race and from that will be stronger for the start of the Tour".
Boogerd is no longer suffering from the knee injury that sidelined him at the Volta a Catalunya in May. "No-one need worry about that, I will be fine. If I continue to ride as I am now, it should be no problem," he told Algemeen Dagbald.
Boogerd came to the Swiss climber's race in order to improve his condition for the Tour, the same preparation strategy he used last year. "Last year I came good after the Tour de Suisse, and even then I found it difficult during the first few days," he said. "I came here this year two and a half kilos heavier, I didn't do anything for 11 days and the week before that I only trained for a few hours a day so it is logical that the form is not there. In training I don't mind hurting, but in racing I hate it! I know it will pay off though, and I knew I would suffer here."
Boogerd's team-mate, Theo Eltink, is also suffering in the Tour de Suisse, a race that was not initially on his schedule, but one which he finds himself riding after having to pull out of the Dauphiné Libéré due to stomach problems. Eltink is here to gain form and show the team that he deserves a spot at the Tour de France, which he was originally pre-selected for. Van Houwelingen is not so sure though: "If this is the best that he has in him at the moment, then the Tour is going to be too hard for him," he explained. It seems Eltink is going to have to come up with something special to realise his Tour spot.
T-Mobile for Ster Elektrotoer
T-Mobile is sending a strong sprinting contingent to the five-day Ster Elektrotoer starting in the Netherlands today. Mark Cavendish, Gerald Ciolek and Bernhard Eisel will spearhead the team, with the 22 year-old Briton still in the frame for a Tour de France start after five victories so far in his debut professional season.
"It's like a dream sometimes," said Cavendish, "I never thought I'd be celebrating two ProTour stage wins at a race as big as the Tour of Catalonia in my first pro season. We are bringing a strong team to 'Elektrotoer'. If the legs are good, then I will sprint for a stage win, but I will also be there for Gerald and Bernhard."
Eisel is also riding the crest of a wave, the 26 year-old Austrian is fresh from two wins at the U.S. Triple Crown series in Pennsylvania. "My confidence and morale are sky-high after the success in the U.S.," said Eisel. "We will be a powerful force in Holland. If the competition is marking me, then I will ride for Mark or Gerard. Most important is that the Team wins."
The 2.1 ranked event features a predominantly flat parcours although Thursday's longest stage from Aachen to Valkenburg revisits the Amstel Gold Race finale, finishing atop the notorious Cauberg ascent.
Full T-Mobile roster: Michael Barry, Lorenzo Bernucci, Mark Cavendish, Gerald Ciolek, Bernhard Eisel, Servais Knaven, Axel Merckx, Thomas Ziegler.
Quick Step for Ster Elektrotoer
Quick Step - Innergetic has released its eight man roster to contest the Ster Elektrotoer in the Netherlands this week. The team will send Serge Baguet, Wilfried Cretskens, Ad Engels, Sebastien Rosseler, Peter Van Petegem, Davide Viganò, Wouter Weylandt and Maarten Wynants.
The team's directeur sportif will be Rik Van Slycke.
Boonen post-Tour: first stop Diksmuide
The Tour de France is fast approaching, which means it is a busy time for organisers of the post-Tour criteriums. They are busily trying to sign star riders to make an appearance at their race. Many riders, who may be feeling the form coming on, decide to wait until near the end of the Tour before signing with a race organiser in the hope that they can demand more start money due to their good results during the race.
Not so, it seems, for Tornado Tom Boonen, who has already signed his first contact for the Belgian Natour Broker Criterium which takes place on Tuesday July 31 in Diksmuide, only leaving riders one day of rest after the conclusion of the Tour. Only in its third year, the criterium has already built a reputation as being the first stop for the best Belgian riders and just like the first two editions, Boonen will be the star.
Further delay to Landuyt-Museeuw trial
Johan Museeuw's ongoing doping trial has suffered a further delay after it emerged that Jef Vermassen, the lawyer for ex-veterinarian José Landuyt who is accused of supplying Museeuw and fellow riders Mario De Clercq, Jo Planckaert and Chris Pears with banned substances, could not be present at the June 25 hearing in Kortrijk, Belgium.
The case, which is now scheduled to proceed on September 27, dates back to 2003 when doping products Aranesp, EPO and Dexomethasone were allegedly found by police after a raid on Museeuw's home. Further evidence came from the well publicised SMS conversations between Museeuw and Landuyt which appeared to discuss doping products, methods of use and ways to circumvent controls.
Savings & Loans already planning North American return
By Greg Johnson
Having just finished its debut in North America at the Tour de Beauce, Oceania continental team Savings & Loans is already planning an expanded program on the continent for 2008. The Adelaide, Australia based squad finished the Canadian event with one rider, Craig Mccarney, in 14th place, while Peter Mueller took 35th overall.
"We have plans to expand our race program in the US next year," declared team manager Stephen Cunningham. "The racing is fantastic, the teams are strong and the sport is growing in stature.
"Our first race in North America was a tough one!" he added, referring to the early loss of Olympian Brett Aitken to sickness and Will Dickeson due to injury. "I thought the guys rode a great race. We were left with three riders for the remainder of the Tour. Craig McCartney, David Pell and Peter Mueller rode really well for the remainder of the race, being aggressive and finishing strongly each stage. Pelly and Craig were in several breaks during the Tour, unfortunately none of them resulted in a stage result, but that's racing."
The credit union-backed squad's five riders will now head to the United States where they will contest this weekend's Rochester Twilight Criterium. Cunningham, a former Herald Sun Tour stage winner, also thanked the North American teams for welcoming the squad with open arms.
"When you come over from the other side of the globe, it's hard to bring everything you need," he explained. "Other teams and the event were fantastic making sure we had what we needed. Particular thanks to the guys from Navigators and they're to be congratulated for the result - Ben Day road a perfect race and was well supported by his team mates, especially Glen Chadwick.
"It just shows that wherever you go to race, there are Aussies doing really well in this sport," concluded Cunningham.
Best of British in Yorkshire for criterium championships
By Gerry McManus
Top level criterium racing returns to Otley in Yorkshire this Wednesday June 20 when the town hosts the men's British criterium championship. The town hosted the championship race two years ago when a young Mark Cavendish showed his emerging talent after the now T-Mobile professional took the gold medal. James Taylor returns to defend the title he won last year when team-mate Tony Gibb also took the silver for the Plowman Craven team. This year's Plowman Craven/Evans team also has talented sprinter Simon Gaywood travelling up from Leighton Buzzard.
The riders will have to be alert as the full 100-strong field contests the one hour event on a tough little circuit which starts as the light begins to fade at 8.30 in the evening. Whoever wins the national champion's jersey will have beaten the best criterium riders that Britain has to offer.
Russell Downing (Team Health Net - Maxxis) makes the short trip up from Rotherham following his victories in the Brentwood town centre race and the 'Northern Rock' Beaumont Trophy in consecutive weeks. Downing has already worn the national champion's jersey as criterium champion in 2002 and road race champion in 2005. There's even more chance that the name Downing could be engraved on the gold medal with Russell's brother Dean riding the event as part of the five-man Rapha Condor racing team.
Competition for the podium spots will come from Rob Sharman (KFS Special Vehicles), Tom Barras (Merlin RT), Malcolm Elliott (Pinarello RT), Chris Newton and Simon Holt (both Recycling.co.uk), Ian Wilkinson (Science in Sport) and Rob Hayles (Team KLR) to name but a few.
Steve Cummings (Discovery Channel) and Ben Greenwood (Bedogni Natalini Praga) also return home from their continental exploits. Greenwood has had a number of good results in Italy this year including second place in the GP Madonna Delle Grazie in April. Cummings rode a slightly larger Italian race in May when he was called up for the Discovery team for the Giro d'Italia. The 26 year-old from the Wirral used his British team pursuit experience to help the Discovery team to fifth place in the 25.6km team time trial opening stage.
Alas Warrick Spence's (Cyclefit) New Zealand nationality means he is ineligible here and his attacking style and speed through corners will be missed by the 4,000 fans expected to watch if the weather holds fair.
USAC announces Rio squad
USA Cycling has announced its 10 nominees for the nation's squad that will go to next month's Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Included in the lineup is defending silver medalist Mary McConneloug, who will front the lineup covering all Olympic disciplines with both experienced and new riders.
McConneloug will be the only female MTB racer on the squad, which will feature male counterparts Todd Wells and Adam Craig. The duo, both making their Pan American Games debut, are America's highest placed riders in the world standings, in 14th and 20th respectively.
As mountain biking is the only discipline at attracts ranking points at the Pan Am Games, the United States will only send a small road and track contingent. TEAm Lipton's Kim Geist will be the sole road rider on the squad, with the 19 year-old due to contest the time trial event.
Ben Barczewski and Andy Lakatosh make up the track contingent, contesting the match sprint and keirin events. Meanwhile, four athletes will represent the nation in the Olympic's newest sport - BMX - Brandon Meadows, Jason Richardson, Krystal Hime and Rachel Smith.
The nominees are subject to approval by the United States Olympic Committee Board of Directors.
American Pan American Games roster: Road - Kim Geist, Track - Ben Barczewski, Andy Lakatosh, Mountain Bike - Todd Wells, Adam Craig, Mary McConneloug, BMX - Brandon Meadows, Jason Richardson, Krystal Hime, Rachel Smith.
Nature Valley GP gets college all-stars
Eight of America's top female college cyclists will lineup at this week's Nature Valley Grand Prix in Minnesota, having been hand-picked to form the first Ryan Collegiate All-Star Team. The girls, who are completing various degrees including both medical and science fields, all contested last month's National Collegiate Cycling Championships in Kansas, aiding their selection for the squad.
"I think we'll form a team quickly because we're the only team we have," stated Jenny Bodine, who won the division 1 national criterium. "I think some of these races are going to be longer than what we're used to, so we'll have to encourage each other."
The rookie squad will face some stiff competition at the six stage race, commencing on Wednesday, with all of the major American women's teams taking part in the NRC Calendar event. Amongst those they will race is TEAm Lipton, Webcor Builders, Cheerwine, Colavita/Sutter Home and Arron's.
"Winning the criterium at Nationals was awesome, and taking second in the Omnium was great, but this is just the icing on the cake. It’s an excellent opportunity," added Bodine, who hopes to land a professional contract in the sport.
Ryan Collegiate All-Star Team roster: Erica Allar (Penn State), Jenny Bodine (George Washington), Devon Haskell (University of Chicago), Andrea Luebbe (Lehigh), Kristin McGrath (Fort Lewis College), and Susannah Nichols Pratt (University of New Hampshire).
Back on the bike after enduring tragedy
With the support of his local cycling community and a new bike provided by his academy's equipment sponsor, promising 15 year-old Australian cyclist Alex Tomlinson is back into cycling after being involved in a road accident that claimed the life of his good friend, Ben Mikic. The two teenagers were out training on April 27 when a car turned in front of them as they rode through the Southern Highlands town of Mittagong.
Described as a tragic accident, it took the life of Mikic, who was considered one of New South Wales' strongest young riders. Tomlinson was seriously injured and taken to hospital, but he made a good recovery and returned home. He and Mikic both attended the same college in Bowral, NSW, and were also scholarship holders at the Illawarra Academy of Sport (IAS), the regional sports institution that recognises and helps develop talented athletes.
While Tomlinson was able to recover at home, his bike did not make it and even after witnessing such tragedy, the young rider wanted to get back on a bike and start training again. At this point the IAS equipment sponsor, Excelpro, the Australian distributor of Argon 18 bicycles from Canada, stepped in and organised a new Gallium S3 model which was recently presented to Tomlinson by Josh Kersten, a former graduate of the IAS and a now-retired champion track cyclist.
Josh Kersten, and his brother Ben, currently racing as an invited international rider in Japan's highly competitive keirin series (see his online diary), are both former graduates of the IAS and are also highly involved in the IAS junior cycling development program. "It will get me back into it, pretty much," Tomlinson told local newspaper the Illawarra Mercury. "I just want to get back into it with them and get my fitness back."
The loss of Ben Mikic deeply affected the local cycling community, which has grouped together and formed the Ben Mikic Foundation, which aims to promote road safety and increase awareness among all road users for cycling, as well as support emerging young riders. The tragic loss of another talented young Australian cyclist in a road accident has spread as far as Europe, with leading Australian professional Brad McGee adding his support to the Foundation.
It is organising a fund-raiser to be held on June 24 at the Campbelltown, NSW, electronic games centre, called Zone 3. The night is definitely aimed at young people, or the young at heart, given that it involves teams of 10 players in a round-robin of 'laser-tag'. Please visit the foundation website for more details.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2007)