First Edition Cycling News for March 6, 2007
Edited by Greg Johnson & Ben Abrahams
ProTour crisis gets peace deal
Working agreement formulated; long term solution to be developed
By Shane Stokes with assistance from Cara McCauley Applegate
With just five days to the start of Paris-Nice, the prospect of open civil war in cycling appears to have been overcome by a last-chance meeting held between the UCI, the organisers of the three Grand Tours and the IPCT in Brussels.
While it is a temporary solution and some points from the meeting need to be further clarified, it appears that all of the teams listed as part of the UCI's ProTour series should now be able to take part in the 11 races organised by ASO, RCS Sport and Unipublic this year, bringing the sport back from the brink of chaos.
Under the accord forged by the UCI's Pat McQuaid and Alain Rumpf, Patrice Clerc (ASO), Angelo Zomegnan (RCS Sport) and Victor Cordero (Unipublic), as well as the crucial input of IPCT representatives Patrick Lefevere and his lawyer Jean-Louis Dupont, the 18 ProTour teams accepted by the Grand Tour organisers will have automatic entry. Wildcards Astana and Unibet.com are also likely to get a green light.
However clarification is needed with regard to the following long clause mentioned in the release: "Without prejudicing their right to grant wild cards to all other teams of their choice, for the duration of this agreement ASO, RCS and Unipublic will examine in a positive spirit the granting of wild cards to the teams Astana and Unibet, in particular insofar as such decisions are not likely to expose or be likely to expose the organisers to legal consequences, of whatever nature they might be."
Unibet.com has faced problems competing in France due to legislation restricting advertising for gambling. The wording of the clause means that it remains to be seen if this law could still compromise their participation in races such as the Tour de France, or if the wearing of non-branded jerseys will satisfy ASO vis-à-vis their taking part. The team competed in several races on French soil this season wearing clothing with a distinctive question mark rather than the Unibet.com logo.
Today's meeting in Brussels international airport was seen as a last chance opportunity to resolve the crisis, with participation in events such as Paris-Nice remaining under threat. The parties concerned sat down at 2 pm and were still holding talks late in the evening, with final word of an agreement not coming through until a full nine hours after discussions began.
According to the joint release, those in attendance: "finalised an agreement which guarantees an out of courts solution for the whole of the 2007 season, also providing a mechanism to look for a long term-solution, by partnering all the third parties concerned."
It states that in the interests of complete transparency, the full details have been disclosed of what was formulated. "The present agreement has the aim of amicably settling the disagreement which is affecting professional cycling, in line with the methods and in the ways defined below," stated the release, "with the agreement that this ruling is of a purely provisional nature and thus does not prejudice anything as regards the respective rights and obligations of the parties, nor of the bases of their respective positions, regarding the aforesaid disagreement."
"In other words, this settlement is similar to that in which an emergency interim ruling would be returned on the same matter."
In order to work towards a long term solution, the sides concerned undertake to meet at least once a month. The goal of the talks is to find a long-term solution to the ProTour issue by September 21st at the latest.
While there is clearly a lot of work ahead, the outcome of the meeting and the positive tone of the joint release means that things are looking a whole lot healthier now for professional cycling than they did just 24 hours ago.
For the full news feature, click here.
Cyclingnews' recent coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split
October 4, 2008 - New ASO chief to maintain values
Pozzato becomes Northern Classics contender
Italian Filippo 'Pippo' Pozzato (Liquigas) grabbed another big one last Saturday in Lokeren by winning the 62nd Omloop Het Volk, adding to a palmarès that includes a Tour de France stage, the HEW-Cyclassics and last year's Milano-Sanremo. The victory proved his worth on Belgian soil and will surely put his name at the top of the list of contenders for April's Ronde Van Vlaanderen. Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown caught up with the Italian in Kuurne to learn more.
Not as big as his 2006 Sanremo win, taken on home soil and the stuff of every Italian's dreams, the Omloop Het Volk helped to build Pozzato's status as a one-day rider, and especially as a rider for the Northern Classics. His tactics in the closing kilometres of Saturday's race were brilliant, not often found in a young rider, but then again, Pippo has been professional since 2000.
The last kilometre of Het Volk was a pure test of will and patience. There were two men up front, Spaniard Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) and Aussie Stuart O'Grady (Team CSC), and Pippo was sitting in a group of four with Belgians Tom Boonen (Quickstep-Innergetic), Nick Nuyens (Cofidis) and Aussie Baden Cooke (Unibet.com). When Cooke faded, Nuyens launched, and instead of immediately following Pippo waited behind to let the Belgian rivalry play out.
"The last two kilometres I thought we could pull them in [Flecha and O'Grady] but before that I did not think we had a chance," Pippo said. "Also they were tired, there was a lot of headwind, so, they were feeling the pain, like us."
For the full feature on Filippo Pozzato, click here.
Züri Metzgete still looking for money
By Susan Westemeyer
Things are looking bleak for the Züri Metzgete, but organiser Michael Ausfeld hasn't yet given up hope of securing additional funds for the ProTour race. "I'm not yet speaking of the end of our race," he told the Neue Züricher Zeitung. "But it's getting tight - we have nothing left but the hope of a lucky punch."
By a "lucky punch" he means a sponsor who would be willing to pump 400,000 Swiss Francs into the 2007 event, due to take place on October 7. He blamed recent doping scandals for difficulty in finding sponsors, but noted that "We, the organisers, can't do anything about the bad reputation of the scene."
Ausfeld had asked the International Management Group (IMG) in January to take over the management of the race. The IMG is led by former pro cyclist Armin Meier and manages, among others events, the Tour du Suisse. However, Meier said on Friday that in light of other obligations, including the 2008 European Football Championships, "it would not be possible for [IMG] to do justice to the race."
T-Mobile with youth at Le Samyn
The T-Mobile Team are counting on a youthful mix of sprinters and classics specialists for Wednesday's Le Samyn race around the hilly Haut Pays region of Wallonia in Belgium. 33 year-old Briton Roger Hammond is the only exception and directeur sportif Jan Schaffrath will be looking to the classics veteran to lead T-Mobile's charge alongside Eric Baumann and Adam Hansen.
"Le Samyn is a challenging race. If it pans out like it usually does, then we should see a small breakaway group contest the finish," said Schaffrath. "Eric, Roger and Adam's performances in recent races have shown that they have the legs to ride at the front over this kind of terrain."
The leading trio will be supported by Scott Davis, Aaron Olson and Frantisek Rabon plus sprinters André Greipel and Mark Cavendish, both of whom are recovering from early season colds.
The 191.1km race sets off from Frameries, near the French-Belgian border, on Wednesday morning and finishes up with four laps of a 20.1km circuit in and around the town of Dour. A total of 22 teams including seven ProTour squads will be at the start with last year's winner Renaud Dion (Ag2r Prévoyance) and 2006 Het Volk winner Phillippe Gilbert (Française Des Jeux) among the favourites.
Karpin Galicia for Murcia
By Monika Prell
Karpin Galicia will participate at the Vuelta a Murcia and has announced a strong lineup for the March 7-11 event. The Spanish Professional Continental squad is looking forward to the event, staged in the South-East of Spain, where it hopes to go one spot better than Eduard Vorganov's second place in last weekend's Clasica de Almeria.
Marcos Serrano, who started well in the Vuelta a Andalucia, will turn his attention to the individual time trial on the fourth stage. He commented to regmurcia.com that, "this is a [area] where I bettered myself over the years, and I want to know at what point I am now."
Time trial specialist Isidro Nozal says he likes the event's course and that the time trial motivate him. "The time-trial is my specialty, and when a tour contains one, I'm even more motivated, because this rises my chances compared to a climber," said Nozal.
Nozal believes a home town advantage makes Alejandro Valverde the favourite for the event. "He will be riding in his home region and he showed in Valencia that he has got a really great competing form," noted Nozal.
Karpin Galicia roster for Vuelta a Murcia:
Henderson confirmed in NZ world championships lineup
New Zealand's Greg Henderson has been confirmed in his country's world track championship team after selectors originally left the T-Mobile out of the squad due to his commitments with the magenta ProTour team. Successful negotiations with T-Mobile has allowed the Otago rider to take a position in the squad for this months championships in Palma, Spain.
Henderson is expected to contest the scratch race and will also re-unite
with Hayden Roulston for the Madison.
The announcement means Henderson will need to make a rushed switch from road to track, with his road program running up to the day before the world track championships.
New Zealand world track championships roster:
Varese 2008 announce MotoGP promotional deal
The organiser of the Varese 2008 UCI Road World Championships has announced a deal that will see the event publicized on two wheels of a different kind in MotoGP. The event's logo and website address will adorn the Honda RC212V of Shinya Nakano for the remainder of 2007 and throughout 2008.
The two year deal with the Konica Minolta Team, owned by JiR, will put the event in front of hundreds of millions of people world wide, with some 320 million viewers from 208 countries reportedly tuning in to watch each of the series 18 rounds.
"I'm very happy to have undersigned this agreement which links us to JiR and the Konica Minolta Honda team," said Amedeo Colombo, president of Varese 2008 Spa. "So our communication opens to a public not only fond of cycling. We would like our worldwide championship - Varese 2008 - to be remembered as an event of a level that has never been achieved before and the passion for two-wheels has been the main driving force of this project."
"The ambition to develop a series of events and initiatives with the aim to promote the event but also to promote the area of Varese itself will be the focal point of this world-wide event and our work together."
The deal with JiR will also see the logo of Varese 2008 Spa's main sponsor, Mapei, displayed on the Honda, offering those supporting the event added exposure.
"JiR is a company which uses innovative ideas to mix sport, social events and communication for our mutual benefit and for this reason I am sure that the synergy with Varese 2008 Spa will be a very useful one for all of us," said Konica Minolta Honda team director Gianluca Montiron.
NZ women return battered ahead of home tour
The New Zealand women's cycling team returned home yesterday in bad shape after taking a beating at the Geelong Tour and World Cup last week. The squad has just one day to heal the wounds from its Australian visit before lining up for the Tour of Wellington.
"We are pretty bruised and battered," New Zealand coach Susy Pryde told Stuff.co.nz. "Out of six athletes that rode in Geelong, four ended up crashing or being injured. We've got stitches, dislocations and cracked ribs."
Michelle Hyland returned to New Zealand with six stitches in her stomach, Marina Jduvnjak a dislocated shoulder, and Rushless Buchanan has suspected crack ribs, while Sarah Ulmer also has cuts and bruises following her involvement in a crash. Buchanan could yet withdraw from her home event following further examination of her injuries today.
"Sarah's back is obviously not 100 per cent, but she will be riding the Wellington tour," added Pryde. "It's a day to day thing for her, but it's often more inflamed if she has sustained power output."
Despite the squad's battering, Pryde expects the majority of the riders will be ready for tomorrow's start. The injured riders collectively make up the majority of both the Trust House and Samsung New Zealand teams.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2007)