Latest Cycling News for March 9, 2007
Edited by Hedwig Kröner, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer
ASO asked MrBookmaker to sponsor Paris-Nice in 2004, team claims
Tour de France and Paris-Nice organiser ASO asked MrBookmaker.com to be a sponsor of Paris-Nice in 2004, according to Koen Terryn, general manager of Unibet.com, which was formerly Mr.Bookmaker. ASO is still unwilling to let Unibet participate in the race, saying that the online gambling company is illegal in France.
"In 2004 we were told that PMU would stop sponsoring the sprinter's jersey in Paris-Nice," Terryn told Belgian Sportwereld. "The Belgian Daniel Marichal negotiated with us in the name of Jeanne Azarro, now retired, of ASO's marketing department. He personally came to our company headquarters for that purpose. Eventually we decided not to do it."
At the time, the conflict regarding online gambling companies throughout Europe had not yet grown large enough to prevent the websites from advertising in high-level sports. Since then, several European countries have prohibited companies like Bwin and Unibet.com to display their sponsorships of soccer or cycling teams in their respective countries, thereby protecting the states' monopoly of lottery and gambling. (For a wider perspective on the fight between Unibet, ASO and the UCI, click here.)
Still, Unibet.com is fighting for an entry in Paris-Nice, which starts this Sunday, and feels that it is treated unfairly. "We have already been riding with plain jerseys and cars," Terryn continued. "What more can we do?"
Unibet has asked a court in Paris to enforce its right to start in Paris-Nice. The last pleadings were held Thursday and a ruling is expected on Friday afternoon.
Paris-Nice again a UCI event
The 2007 Paris-Nice stage race will finally be carried out under the authority of the UCI, not the French cycling federation FFC. Since the "last chance" meeting held on Monday in Brussels, the UCI has refrained from demanding sanctions against the FFC, who had intervened in the conflict between the UCI and Paris-Nice organiser ASO, offering to hold the event under its own rules and regulations.
But two days before the race prologue in Paris, the situation is back to normal as far as the race commissaires and anti-doping controls are concerned. "The FFC and ASO have decided to abandon the set-up of their convention for the organisation of the next edition of Paris-Nice, the conditions being now united to allow this event to take place under the support of the UCI," ASO published in a press communiqué on Friday.
Also, the French company announced that the UCI confirmed that the selection criteria for the ProTour did not apply to the events organised by ASO, RCS Sport or Unipublic. "The President of the UCI has notified Thursday 8th of March in the evening in a clear way [that the] World level events of ASO, RCS and of Unipublic, placed outside of the UCI ProTour calendar, were indeed no longer subject to the rules of selection and participation of teams as planned by the current UCI regulations (article 2.15.261- UCI pro Tour) for the 2007 season," the press release stated. "The FFC and ASO are delighted about the outcome of their joint processes with the UCI in this matter and are happy with the solutions that have been found in order to see Paris-Nice, one the major French cycling events, take place normally."
Quick-Step, Astana and Milram for Paris-Nice
Belgian team QuickStep-Innergetic has confirmed its line-up for Paris-Nice, which will start on Sunday, March 11. The team will be centred around Tom Boonen, the favourite for the first, flat stages of the week of racing 'towards the sun'.
Boonen will be helped by the following teammates to keep the peloton together: Wilfried Cretskens, Steven De Jongh, Sebastien Rosseler, Gert Steegmans, Matteo Tosatto, Kevin Van Impe and Jurgen Van De Walle.
Astana, which holds a ProTour licence has been given a wild card for the race by the organiser, and will thus also be at the start of the 65th edition of Paris-Nice. Eight cyclists will participate, including the Russian Gennady Mikhailov and the Australian Aaron Kemps, who fills in for the ill Spaniard Antonio Colom. Kemps had finished third during one of the stages in 2005.
Astana's line-up will be: Igor Abakoumov, Thomas Frei, Maxim Iglinskiy, Benoît Joachim, Gennady Mikhailov, Dimitri Muravyev, Jose Antonio Redondo and Aaron Kemps.
Team Milram sends a team led by Igor Astarloa to the first important race this year, as Alessandro Petacchi will be busy racing in Tirrenno-Adriatico. However, the responsibility of performance is not put on the Spaniard alone.
"We can do a good race with our riders," said sport director Vittorio Algeri. "In the first part of the race Mirco Lorenzetto will have his chances in the sprints, Igor Astarloa in the second and more demanding part."
Team Milram's selection reads as follows: Igor Astarloa, Ralf Grabsch, Brett Lancaster, Mirco Lorenzetto, Martin Müller, Alberto Ongarato, Björn Schröder and Sebastian Siedler.
Sastre abandons in Murcia
Due to the pain caused by a crash in stage one in Vuelta Ciclista a Murcia, Team CSC's Carlos Sastre has decided to abandon the race after agreement with the team doctor, Joost De Maeseneer.
"Carlos had a lot of pain in his back after the crash and we found that it was best to look into the injury a bit further instead of risking anything by having Carlos continue riding. He will have a scan now and hopefully it will show that it is only an injury to the surface," said De Maeseneer, who added that the other riders who crashed Wednesday are fine. Thursday's stage was cancelled due to heavy winds which caused great material damage in the South of the country.
Millar addresses UK Sport's Anti-Doping conference
By Ben Atkins, UK Editor in London
David Millar was invited to address an Anti-Doping conference hosted by UK Sport at a central London hotel on Thursday. Millar - who returned last year from a two-year ban for admitting to using EPO - shared his perspective on doping in elite sport at the conference, which was attended by delegates from all sports.
UK Sport - the umbrella organisation that governs, and provides finance for the individual sports' governing bodies - as well as being the national Anti-Doping organisation - has pushed itself to the forefront of the fight against drugs in sport with a strict regime of out-of- competition testing, athlete profiles, a "Whereabouts System" and most recently, and visibly, with the launch of the "100% Me" brand.
John Scott, UK Sport's director of Drug Free Sport explained, "We haven't chosen the phrase "100% Me" lightly, there is a real meaning to that. It is about achieving something, purely on your own merits."
Both Scott and Andy Parkinson - the Head of Operations for Drug-Free Sport - spoke of the necessity to continue to fight against doping, for future generations, and for the future of sport itself. "If we turn to some sort of legalised structure, then we're going to kill people," said Parkinson, dismissing the idea that, as the cheats are often one step ahead of the testers, that sports should capitulate and legalise all forms of doping. "We want the kids to see sport as a healthy option, if we start looking at legalisation and chemicals within sport then we're going to be looking at a lot of people who won't make it past the finish line."
Parents, they say, will be much less likely to encourage their children to take a sport seriously if they see a risk to their health, as Scott said, "As a parent I will fight tooth and nail to stop it from becoming an accepted practice."
David Millar was less positive about the prospects for raiding the sport of doping, although he, too, stressed that all that could be done, should be done. "The fight against doping is futile, (doping) will always exist, and it's only going to get more advanced. There is always the risk that you're going to get beaten by someone [who's doping].
"To think that we're ever going to have a clean sport is a pipedream... It's going to have to get to a point where we're going to have to say 'that's all we can do, on the practical side, we can't chip the athletes' - that would be what it would come down to, and then they'd find a way of cheating that."
Millar spoke in praise of the anti-doping regimes that are being introduced by some of the teams - singling out CSC and T-Mobile - where he said that riding clean is now more important than winning at all costs. "I'd like to think that this is setting some sort of precedent," he commented. When asked about his own team, Saunier Duval, he conceded that "they're not doing enough," and added that the budget for an anti-doping program should be made available by the teams' sponsors.
"Cycling is too complicated and too expensive for the UCI to police, it's only down to the sponsors to assume their responsibility for putting something back into the sport - they're getting all the coverage, they should give something back, which is allocating some more budget to police their own teams, that's the future."
UK Sport are very positive about the future of British athletes, even when they continue their careers in professional teams, as they will always remain in touch with - and part of - the UK Sport system, in contact with the coaching staff - and the anti-doping staff. As well as this, they are having it proved to them - through their own experience - that it is possible to win clean within a professional coaching system.
A comment from Millar summed up the attitude taken - that it is more important to compete as a clean athlete than it is to win at all costs; "You're proud. Let's say you do get beaten by somebody [who you know is doping], but you know what? You don't care, because you're part of this clean system, and they're part of the Dark Side"
Quick-Step doctor sues Belgian newspaper over doping claims
Quick-Step team doctor Yvan Vanmol is suing the Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws and reporter Martin Michialssens for two million Euros over a series of articles linking him to doping within the team, according to Sportwereld. Last week, team manager Patrick Lefevere announced he was suing the newspaper and reporter for more than 20 million Euros.
The articles, which appeared in January , claimed that Vanmol administered doping products to the riders. "I have nothing to hide," said Vanmol. "I am not afraid of the truth."
2007 Tour of Denmark
Tour of Denmark race director Jesper Worre announced the route for the 2007 stage race on Thursday. The 17th edition of the Danish event will be taking place from August 1-5, 2007, starting in Thisted in the North of the country and finishing, as usual, in Frederiksberg in the centre of Copenhagen. The time trial in Næstved and the third, more demanding stage to Vejle will be decisive for the overall classification.
The six-days stage race will count 16 teams: Team CSC, Rabobank, Team T-Mobile, Liquigas, Predictor-Lotto, Team Barloworld, Chocolade Jacques, Skil Shimano, Team Intel Action, Team Post Danmark, Team GLS, Glud & Marstrand Horsens, Team Designa Køkken, Team Odense Energi and Team Vision Bikes Løgstør Parkhotel.
2007 Tour of Denmark will unfold as follows:
August 1, 2007 - Stage 1: Thisted - Aalborg, 175 km
Wood on a roll in New Zealand
Oenone Wood of T-Mobile Team won her second straight stage at the Trust House Women's Tour in New Zealand on Friday, for the team's third straight win at the race. Teammate Ina-Yoko Teutenberg kept the leader's jersey.
The third stage featured four laps around a 30 kilometre course. Various breakaways formed, but T-Mobile took charge and brought the group in for a mass sprint finish, which Wood won ahead of Larissa Kleinmann (German national team) and Jenny McPherson (Australian national team).
"The girls did a fantastic job again today and kept the race under control," said directeur sportif Anna Wilson. "We're in a good position for the deciding mountain stage on Saturday."
Equipe Nürnberger for 2007
Equipe Nürnberger has joined the trend of German teams with a new beginning - exactly half of the team's ten riders are new this season. The women's team introduced those ten riders, including former world champion Regina Schleicher, at its presentation this week.
The team is centred around three riders: Trixi Worrack, who finished second in the World's road race in 2006, Schleicher, who won that race in 2005, and newcomer Edita Pucinskaite of Lithuania, world champion in 1999 and winner of the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia.
"We have often had top riders leave us, but we have always been able to fill the holes they left behind," said sports director Jens Zemke. "I'm confident that we will compete on the highest level with this team."
The team is also sponsoring for the first time an amateur team with eight riders, all of whom are members of the national team. "If we can offer these young athletes professional training conditions, then that profits not only us but all of German cycling," said team manager Herbert Oppelt. "Professional teams in other sports have done this for a long time."
Equipe Nürnberger squad for 2007: Charlotte Becker (Germany), Andrea Graus (Austria), Claudia Häusler (Germany), Marie Lindberg (Sweden), Eva Lutz (Germany), Edita Pucinskaite (Lithuania), Regina Schleicher (Germany), Modesta Vzesniauskaite (Lithuania) and Trixi Worrack (Germany).
'Race to the Sun' raises funds for hospital's neonatal unit
Pediatric Anaesthetic Consultant, Dr Ralph Mackinnon, may not be up to celebrating his fortieth birthday in style after deciding to test his endurance and raise money for the new Neonatal Surgical Unit at Saint Mary’s Hospital, Manchester.
Dr MacKinnon will take on the ‘Race to the Sun’ cycling challenge along with four experienced alpine cyclist colleagues. Over seven days, they will cycle 1260km from Paris to Nice, riding for up to nine hours and covering distances of around 200km a day, as they try to stay ahead of the professionals in the cycling stage race Paris-Nice.
Dr MacKinnon, who works at Saint Mary’s Hospital, said "I'm hoping I won't be too exhausted when I get to the end of the race as I turn forty and hope to have a little energy for celebrating that and the success of the cycle ride and money raised in aid of the new unit."
The New Children’s Hospital Appeal aims to raise £20 million to help fund projects in the new hospitals focusing on two main areas of providing state-of-the-art equipment and parental accommodation to enable parents to stay close to their child. All sponsorship raised from the cycle race will be directed to the brand new neonatal unit.
Dr Mackinnon and his colleagues can be supported in their fundraising effort by logging on to www.justgiving.com/racetothesun. The fundraiser is supported by Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operative, Channel M & The Face Partnership.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2007)