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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for May 28, 2007

Edited by Greg Johnson, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

Zabel's future hangs in the balance

Erik Zabel wipes away the tears
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Team Milram hasn't yet decided what to do with Erik Zabel, despite a seven-hour emergency meeting on Saturday. The former Team Telekom rider admitted at a press conference on Thursday that he used EPO in 1996.

"We still have some things to clear up, then we'll announce our decision, probably on Tuesday," the team's business manager Gerry van Gerwen told dpa. Zabel could be suspended by the team in light of his doping confession.

Zabel, van Gerwen, team manager Gianluigi Stanga and Martin Mischel, head of marketing for sponsor Nordmilch, met in Bremen, Germany, on Saturday to discuss the rider's future following last week's revelations.

The German cycling federation, Bund Deutscher Radfahrer (BDR), is also considering whether or not Zabel will be allowed to take part in the world championships in Stuttgart this year. "The decision absolutely won't be made this weekend," said BDR sport director Burkhard Bremer. "We will sit down together in the presidium and not let ourselves be forced into anything."

Zabel, speaking at last week's press conference, admitted he knew there would be a consequence of his admission, and that he was willing to face it. "There will be lots of discussions," he admitted. "I don't know what the consequences will be, but I am willing to face them."

World greets Riis revelations with mixed reaction

Team CSC owner and director Bjarne Riis
Photo ©: AFP Photo
(Click for larger image)

Figureheads within the cycling fraternity have had mixed reactions to Team CSC owner and manager Bjarne Riis' revelations that he doped while riding for Team Telekom during the 90s. The former cyclist turned team manager confessed to using substances, including EPO, from 1993 through to 1998, during which he took a number of wins including the 1996 Tour de France.

While some were encouraged by Riis' admissions, French sport newspaper L'Equipe was direct in its evaluation of the situation, with journalist Pier Bergonzi, one of Italy's most renowned cycling journalists, questioning the sport's ability to move on while figures like Riis remained. In an article titled 'Riis: which future after the admission?' Bergonzi said that: "nobody believes that Riis wouldn't know anything about Basso's link with Fuentes. It's clear that the reconstruction [of cycling] cannot start from people who don't have a hint of credibility anymore."

American cycling legend Greg LeMond on the other hand was encouraged by Riis coming forward, some 11 years after his Tour de France win. The three time Tour winner, who testified at Floyd Landis' arbitration hearing two weeks ago, encouraged others to follow the lead of the recent spate of riders admitting to using performance enhancing drugs.

"I never thought that I would see this," LeMond told the Los Angeles Times. "The decision that Riis made is the right one and I hope that other riders will follow."

Meanwhile Team CSC rider Carlos Sastre has issued a release in support of his boss, stating that the current generation of cyclists within his team owe Riis a lot.

"I have total faith in Bjarne, and he has all my support," said Sastre. "He has made mistakes in the past, but since then he has fought hard to show the younger riders coming through the values of determination, training and sacrifice.

"It's a difficult time for Bjarne right now," continued Saste's statement, "but I want to say that despite what other people might believe, this team owes a lot to him."

A decision from ASO regarding Team CSC's participation at the 2007 Tour de France is expected soon. The organisation is deliberating the issue as it seeks more information on Riis and the doping topic.

"Is this someone who should be leading a cycling team? He was the manager of Ivan Basso last year when Basso was in contact with Fuentes. Is there a link?," ASO's Christian Prudhomme said to AFP.

"I would like to have the answers to these questions," added the Frenchman. "People have to speak out. We have to pull together to save this wonderful sport."

Riis' decision to come clean at a press conference held at CSC headquaters in Lyngby, Denmark on Friday followed on from similar admissions from fellow Team Telekom riders Erik Zabel and Rolf Aldag. A tearful Zabel appeared at the T-Mobile press conference last Thursday with his former teammate to confess to using the banned blood booster EPO while riding for the Team Telekom in the 1990s.

Jean-Franšois QuÚnet, Monika Prell and Greg Johnson contributing.

'Suspended' Jaksche wins in France

Team Tinkoff's Jörg Jaksche won the fifth stage of the Circuit de Lorraine on Sunday, giving him the event's overall victory. But a lot of observers were surprised to see the German rider racing for the Italian squad at all, as the last word on him was that his team had suspended him indefinitely before the start of the Giro d'Italia.

On May 9, the team announced that Jaksche and Tyler Hamilton would not ride the Giro "due to the new circumstances and decisions made public in the last few days", meaning the latest revelations in the Operacion Puerto doping scandal.

The press release went on to state that "The management of the team also decided to suspend the two riders from the team until the competent authorities will have finally sorted out all the implications of the riders in 'Operacion Puerto.'"

Tinkoff has since declared that Jaksche was allowed to contest the Circuit de Lorraine at the discretion of the event's organisers and will continue on a race-by-race basis requiring similar approval from organisers.

"It was possible for him to compete after the acceptance from the organiser but the team has absolutely not changed its line after the precautionary suspension of the German and that of American Tyler," read a release from the Oleg Tinkov owned team.

The squad declared that it sidelined the two riders initially to not create trouble and 'go along with the ProTour' on the eve of 2007's first GrandTour - the Giro d'Italia.

"In regards to Tyler Hamilton, we are working with his manager to find a contract agreement that is good for both sides," added the release.

Boonen back from injury for Belgium

Tom Boonen on his way to victory in 2005
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
Click for larger image

Quick Step Innergetic's Tom Boonen will return to competition later this week for the Tour of Belgium, having recovered from an injury which prevented the Belgian from contesting Spain's Volta a Catalunya. Earlier in May the rider swerved to avoid a car at a road junction while training and ended up hitting his right leg against a road sign, fracturing his big toe and bruising the area around his shin.

"Thankfully my broken toe isn't causing me too many problems and I even managed to do some training a few days after the injury," said Boonen. "But my shin and knee areas are still quite painful meaning I can't really do any intense training. I'm behind with my training but I think it is time to start racing again getting myself back into the rhythm of things in preparation for the Tour de France."

Due to his injuries, Boonen says he'd be happy to ride for a teammate 'if the occasion arises' when he leads the squad at the Tour of Belgium, where he took victory in 2005.

"Gaining a win won't be my main objective as I'll only be able to tell at what point my condition is during the race," he explained. "We have a very strong team; if the occasion arises I'll be more than happy to put myself at my team-mate's disposal as they have so many times helped me gain my victories."

Quick Step Innergetic's Tour of Belgium roster: Tom Boonen, Wilfried Cretskens, Steven De Jongh, Kevin Hulsmans, Sebastien Rosseler, Gert Steegmans, Bram Tankink, Wouter Weylandt
Sporting Director: Wilfried Peeters

Cooke breaks collarbone

Unibet.com's Baden Cooke crashed during the sixth stage of the Volta a Catalunya on Saturday, breaking his collarbone, the team announced. The Australian rider had put in a strong showing at the Spanish event, having put in a solid challenge for the points jersey on the early stages in addition to finishing second behind compatriot Allan Davis (Discovery Channel) on the 182.1 kilometre Stage 3.

"Baden got off the road while he was avoiding a few riders and crashed," said Unibet.com directeur sportif Mathieu Hermans. "He will be out of competition for at least three weeks."

Cooke still held the points jersey, which was inevitably won by Denis Menchov (Rabobank), at the time of the incident.

Mediofondo Fabio Casartelli

By Gregor Brown

Maurizio Canzi and Pierluigi Marzorati
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

The Mediofondo Fabio Casartelli will bring the thrill of fondo (a group ride/race) riding back to Brianza. Before the start of Giro d'Italia stage 14, in Cant¨, the Fabio Casartelli Foundation and Kuoto bicycles came together to present three parcours for cycling enthusiasts. The fondo event will be held on July 22, in the zone between Como, Lecco and Bellagio, with the start in the home town of Fabio Casartelli, Albese con Cassano.

The 1992 Olympic Champion Casartelli died on July 18, 1995 after crashing on the descent of the Col de Portet d'Aspet during Stage 15 of the Tour de France.

On tap for the ride is three options; Corto, covering 58 kilometres, Medio, 75 kilometres with the famed ascent of Madonna del Ghisallo, and the epic 114-kilometre Lungo option. The latter ride uses Ghisallo but also takes in the Muro di Sormano. This brute of a climb rises 923 metres, with the final section averaging 17 percent gradient and includes points which reach 25 percent.

"Thanks to the Kuota and the foundation for their help in funding this event. Maurizio is the soul of this event," said Pierluigi Marzorati, four time Olympian and Casartelli foundation president. Over the past year Marzorati has worked with Kuota to help form the event.

The parents of Fabio Casartelli.
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

"We wanted to support a ride in Brianza," noted Maurizio Canzi from Kuota. The area is the cycling-rich zone that hosts the finale of the Giro di Lombardia. "There are other fondos nearby, but none that take in the climbs of Madonna del Ghisallo and the Muro di Sormano."

The Muro di Sormano was used for three years in the Giro di Lombardia (1960-1962), following right on the heels of the Madonna.

Kuota is hoping for a weekend of celebrations and will use the time to show off its new carbon creations. "We will combine the event with our 2008 product lunch, which will happen the day before," continued Canzi. "But, our contribution is secondary to the foundation and Casartelli's memory."

Casartelli's father noted to Cyclingnews that he did not want this event to be a race because of the risky descents. The organizers have arranged for the 'race' to happen on the climbs, with awards being offered to the riders who climb Sormano and Ghisallo with the best time.

More information can be found at www.fabiocasartelli.com.

Quick Step re-signs trio

Belgian ProTour squad Quick Step Innergetic has announced the re-signing of three of its riders for the team's 2008 roster. Matteo Tosatto, Leonardo Scarselli and Jurgen Van De Walle will remain at the squad next season.

The agreement between the riders and the team manager Patrick Lefevere sees Scarselli remain with the squad on a one year contract for next season while Van De Walle and Tosatto have a one year contract with an option for 2009.

Mt Holly-Smithville GP invites teams to apply

Organisers of the Mt Holly-Smithville Invitational GP are inviting teams interested in contesting this year's event on July 21 to register their interest. Teams will via for some $10000 USD in prizemoney at the event, which will be run in the form of a 100 kilometre criterium in 2007, rather than its traditional road race.

Amongst the teams already invited to contest the 2007 event is Navigators Insurance, Rite Aid and AEG-Toshiba-Jetnetwork. Teams wishing to be considered for participation in the Pro I/II event can submit an application via the web at: www.co.burlington.nj.us/announcements/bikerace/

The team application/selection process will end on June 30 and with organizers expected to announce the full 27 team selection for this year on July 2. Organisers can be contacted at mtholly@ccevesham.net for more information.

Confirmed teams for 2007 edition: Navigators Insurance, Kelly Benefits/Medifast, Rite Aid, Colavita-Sutter Home, Nerac, AEG-Toshiba-Jetnetwork, A&F pro development cycling team, NC cycling-Kane Bikes, Independent Fabrications, Fiordifrutta, GPOA/Cannondale, Sakonet/CRCA, Empire Cycling, Velocity Sports Performance/CCE, GS Mengoni, Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield, CCB/Volkswagen

New England team seeking rider

Revolution Cycles Development team is seeking one category 1 or 2 under-23 riders for the remainder of the season, the team has announced. Applicants must be available for a mandatory June 1-3 training camp and must be able to race key New England races.

In return for their services the lucky applicant/s will receive an Orbea frameset, full team kit and helmet, and some race reimbursement. Interested riders should send resume and letter of recommendation to RCD's Chris Harnish at tradewindsports@verizon.net.

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