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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for June 26, 2007

Edited by Gregor Brown

Cordero waits for UCI riders' document revision

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Victor Cordero
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Vuelta a España Director Victor Cordero is concerned about legal issues in the UCI riders' agreement that was proposed last week. The agreement states that any rider refusing to sign the anti-doping charter and agree to forfeit a year's salary if they're found guilty of doping will be excluded from the Tour de France. Whether the same condition will apply to the Vuelta remains to be seen. "There are some legal aspects that should be revised for the Spanish legal framework," noted Cordero to Cyclingnews on Monday.

Clarification could come as early as next week when Cordero meets with the UCI on July 5 in London. "We will see what happens after the meeting July fifth in London."

Earlier meetings helped Cordero select the final 21 teams for his three-week race. "The first wildcard was given to the Andalucía-Cayasur due to its good results and that there isn't anybody [on the team] linked to Operación Puerto. However, in the case of the Karpin-Galicia, the decision was taken due to its agreement with the ProTour riders' anti-doping signatures resulting from the meeting in Geneva."

One team that was not invited to the Vuelta was the ProTour squad is launching a legal action to try and force the ASO to let them into the Tour de France, something that could be in the future for Unipublic. Cordero affirmed that his organisation would have a hard time adding another team, "It is true that we said that a 22nd squad could ultimately be invited, but at the moment that is impossible because we have some important logistic difficulties for adding anymore squads."

One Spanish Pro-conti squad with good results as of late was left off the list, too. Relax-GAM, the team of Route du Sud winner Oscar Sevilla was not happy to be left out of the Vuelta. Cordero commented that, "[Relax-GAM] has some important riders supposedly linked to Operación Puerto and we have no acceptance guarantee of UCI anti-doping agreement from Relax-GAM. I do not really understand why they are angry with us."

Cordero concluded assuring that, "all the riders who sign the anti-doping document deserve our respect because it gives a great guarantee for us."

Gilberto Simoni signs UCI riders' commitment

Simoni climbs in Giro
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Gilberto Simoni, the two-time Giro d'Italia champion and winner of this year's Giro stage to Monte Zoncolan, is the latest ProTour rider to sign the new UCI anti-doping charter which was released last week. "I signed the declaration," said Gilberto Simoni from his home in Palù di Giovo yesterday. Simoni was the first Saunier Duval rider to add his name to the list of riders.

"I do solemnly declare, to my team, my colleagues, the UCI, the cycling movement and the public that I am not involved in the Puerto affair nor in any other doping case and that I will not commit any infringement to the UCI anti-doping rules," reads part of the statement that Simoni signed. "At the same time, I declare to the Spanish Law, that my DNA is at its disposal, so that it can be compared with the blood samples seized in the Puerto affair."

"This doping problem that torments cycling cannot continue. We need to do it, we are being pulled along in this incredible affair," Simoni continued in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport. He has just finished the Tour de Suisse and will now focus on mountain bike racing with events in Villabassa (July 7), Les Deux Alpes (July 14), pointing towards the Worlds (August 12).

"We cyclists do more and more. Now we have to be accountable 365 days a year? This is not a problem. I don't have a problem to say 'yes,' I will give my availability every day, every hour. They can come and take controls at any moment, also at night, if it helps to leave this situation behind. If it serves to remove the doubts and bitterness... We will not hide behind the past; we can look to the future.

"We don't count for anything, we are only the pawns in the game," he continued on the cyclists' stance. "However, I want that cycling leaves this as soon as possible. I have nothing to hide; this is my sport and I signed. I get upset with the certain groups that have created the doping problems. I am not talking of the individual cases but of the organized cases that create doping to win and make money; I am thinking of Festina and Operación Puerto."

Though Simoni is 35 years-old he still has the desire to push forward. "From when I was 18 years-old I have gone strong on the climbs, always with the first. I still have this strength and I am able to continue."

Along with Simoni, there are another eight other Italians who have signed the UCI agreement. They Italians are Francesco Bellotti, Pietro Caucchioli and Angelo Furlan (along with the entire Crédit Agricole team), Alessandro Cortinovis and Sergio Ghisalberti (Milram - but not Petacchi), Lorenzo Bernucci, Giuseppe Guerini and Marco Pinotti (and the entire T-Mobile).

However, yesterday, President of the Association of Italian professional riders (ACCPI) Amedeo Colombo encouraged his riders not to sign the agreement. "It is not right to sign this declaration," he stated.

TVE not interested in Spanish championships

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Spanish public national television, TVE, is not interested in airing the national championships that take place this weekend in Cuenca, the same town where the 2006 Vuelta a España's stage 14 time trial allowed Alejandro Valverde to maintain his race leadership. Since last summer, many things have changed in cycling and TVE interests have been decreasing since Unipublic (the Vuelta's organiser) was bought by the private broadcasting group Antena 3.

"The negotiations with TVE are becoming very hard. They are not interested in the national championships. We hope to reach an agreement but, at the moment, there is nothing certain. The worse thing is that they are held this weekend," noted José Griñán, Corporative President of the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC), to Cyclingnews.

The 2006 national championships were not held due to a protest by the peloton in regards to the handling of the Operación Puerto investigations. Since the Paris-Nice has taken place in March, TVE has not transmitted any other stage race.

Cofidis nine for Tour

French squad Cofidis has announced its nine men that will compete in the Tour de France, July 7 to 29. The team will be Sylvain Chavanel, Nick Nuyens, Stéphane Augé, Geoffroy Lequatre, Cristian Moreni, Ivan Parra, Staf Scheirlinckx, Rik Verbrugghe and Bradley Wiggins.

The two reserves listed are Leonardo Duque and Kevin De Weert.

Wiggins will be giving his all to fulfil a dream of winning the prologue in his hometown of London (read Cyclingnews' recent interview with Wiggins). Colombian Parra, whose brother Fabio won the young riders' competition in 1985, will start in his second Tour for Cofidis.

Italian crono championships

Marzio Bruseghin in the Giro
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

The week of the Italian national championships, La Settimana Tricolore, runs this week from June 26 to July 1. The locations of the events are all centred around the home of navigator Cristoforo Colombo, Genova. The racing starts on Tuesday in Novi Ligure with all five time trials (42.8 km for the elite men). The day after, in Diano Marina, will be the scene of the elite "without contracts" championship (163 km). The women will contest their road races in Varazze, 28, which is appropriately known as la città delle donne (city of women). The juniors will race 72.7 kilometres and the elite will race 113.7.

The crono is a clockwise loop that is mostly flat (varying by 50 metres in elevation). The riders will take off from Novi Liguria and head west to Basaluzzo and north to Bosco Marengo before returning to the start after 27.1 kilometres. Then they will complete a smaller circuit, cutting back to the finish after passing through Basaluzzo.

Hot favourites are defending champion Marzio Bruseghin, 2005 winner Marco Pinotti and youngster Vincenzo Nibali. The latter two have used the Eindhoven Time Trial to hone their form for a chance at taking Bruseghin's jersey. All three showed well in the Giro d'Italia, Bruseghin put the Tricolore in the spotlight by winning the Oropa mountain time trail, Pinotti spent four days in the leader's Maglia Rosa and Nibali had a stint in the Maglia Bianca of best young rider.

Franke pulls out of sponsorship deal with Patrick Lefevere

Swiss company Franke, best known for its kitchen systems, has decided to pull out of a sponsorship deal with Belgian cycling team Quickstep. At the end of 2006, an agreement was made with Team Manager Patrick Lefevere that the company would become main sponsor for a four-year period, beginning in 2008 with the option for an extra two years.

The decision to withdraw from the agreement comes after two rounds of voting in the company. Franke believes that there exists a negative image of cycling and it decided to withdraw from the agreement.

Bernard Vercaemst, the man behind the initial idea for Franke to sponsor a cycling team, spoke out about the decision and the future of the sport. "A generation of riders is coming that can give cycling a new zest, also in regard to the professionalism of the sport. There are still many possibilities," said Vercaemst.

German cycling federation confusion

After saying yesterday that Erik Zabel won't be riding the World Championships this year due to his admission of taking EPO in 1996, the BDR (German Cycling Federation) is now backpedalling. President Rudolf Scharping declared that the "decision won't be made until September."

According to press agency sid, BDR's vice-president (of recreational cycling) Wolfgang Schoppe has said in the meantime "there is no rush to make that call." He was quoted yesterday by the Tagesspiegel saying that the federation is against a start of Zabel in Stuttgart and the formal decision will be made this Friday.

Amidst the controversy about the German sprint star came news that the vice-president responsible for the professional cycling, Udo Sprenger, has been accused of "accepting and supporting" doping practices when he was directeur sportif with Team Nürnberger, a position he held from 1998 to 2002.

The German TV program Report Mainz said it has a declaration under oath from a former soigneur that support these accusations, while a second former team member confirmed those practices in a written statement. Sprenger said that this is not true and the "witnesses are lying."

The declaration details how start fees from certain races were used to fill a shadow account that was used to buy the doping substances. The former member of the team says that Sprenger was the accountant for that account, and that he was once there witnessing a transaction for medical substances.

Accusations have also been voiced against doctor Roland Müller, who is the Federation's doping control representative. He supposedly was responsible for administering "systematic doping" in the GDR, the former Eastern Germany. Müller declined to comment on those accusations.

Jalabert makes strong Ironman debut

Former cycling great Laurent Jalabert has made a strong Ironman debut. The sprinter and Classics French star, with a palmarès that includes a Milano-Sanremo win, Tour de France points and mountains jerseys, and the Vuelta a España overall, finished 21st overall in the Swiss Ironman.

His time of nine hours, 12 minutes and 30 seconds was aided by a strong run (3:11'38") and bike (4:39'16") leg. The race winner was Swiss Ronnie Schildknecht with a time of 8:25'00".

The 38 year-old will now focus on his work as a France2 commentator for the next month at the Tour de France, a race where he has won four stages. He is hoping to qualify for the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii.

T-Mobile and Rogers to support Australia's Future Generation of Road Cyclists

Cycling Australia announced the creation of the T-Mobile Team Australian Future Generation Road Cycling Development Program supported by Michael Rogers. The program is an initiative of three-time road time trial World Champion, Michael Rogers, who began his cycling career with the Cycling Australia / Australian Institute of Sport (CA/AIS) program and it is backed by the T-Mobile, the professional team to which Rogers is contracted.

"I am very excited to support the Australian Future Generation Road Cycling Development Program along side the T-Mobile Team," said Rogers. "When we first came up with the idea regarding the sponsorship we really wanted to support a project of similar characteristics to the environment in which I grew up.

"Luckily we didn't have to look too far as the Cycling Australia / AIS program is still working hard as ever and it's just great to be able give something back."

"We are pleased to support the development programs of CA/AIS," said T-Mobile Team Manager Bob Stapleton. "They are among the world leaders in identifying and growing young athletes in a professional and supportive environment. Our experience with their alumni athletes has been excellent."

T-Mobile Team's sponsorship of the program will fund travel, accommodation, living expenses, language and cultural education and access to various sports science and athlete support services.

Cycling Australia, Chief Executive Officer, Graham Fredericks said a strong, innovative approach to junior development is vital to secure the future of the sport. "There is a wealth of talented young cyclists in Australia and the T-Mobile Team Future Generation Program means we can provide a platform for them to move from the junior ranks to the next level," said Mr Fredericks.

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