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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for May 30, 2007

Edited by Ben Abrahams, Greg Johnson & Paul Verkuylen

ASO President doesn't want Riis at Tour

ASO President Patrice Clerc
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Patrice Clerc, President of Tour de France organiser Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), has said he would find it "shocking" to have Team CSC boss Bjarne Riis at this year's event following the Dane's confession of using EPO to win the Tour title in 1996. "The way things are now, I have no interest to work together with these people," he told French newspaper L'Equipe.

Regarding the legitimacy of Riis' victory 11 years ago, which cannot be officially stripped due to the World Anti Doping Agency's eight-year statute on doping offences, Clerc noted, "We can't rewrite history, but for me there will be no winner that year."

Riis has offered to return his yellow jersey, a gesture supported by UCI President Pat McQuaid. "I believe it was mentioned at the press conference that if ASO came to him looking for the jersey, he would give it back to them," said McQuaid. "I think that ethically he should consider this and offer his jersey back."

Asked whether Riis should be forced to give up his position at Team CSC and leave professional cycling entirely, Clerc insisted Riis' explanation should go beyond his personal involvement. "He must explain everything about his team, his riders, their results and the relation to Dr. Cecchini," said the Frenchman. "He must show the secret of his success, otherwise no one will believe him."

Clerc also called on the team's sponsor, Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), to act, asking, "Why should it always be the riders who pay the price?"

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Despite the flood of confessions from active and former riders in recent weeks, the ASO President said: "It doesn't interest me to dig up affairs from the past, unless it helps to understand things."

Peña positive for nandrolone

Euskaltel Euskadi rider Aketza Peña has returned a positive test for the anabolic steroid nandrolone following analysis of a urine sample taken after stage one of the Giro del Trentino on April 24. The UCI informed Peña's team that the 26 year-old's A sample contained a level of nandrolone above that permitted, but did not reveal the exact value.

The Spanish team have taken the decision to withdraw Peña from the Giro d'Italia and suspend him from the team pending the result of the B-sample analysis. Nandrolone occurs naturally in the human body, albeit in small quantities, but has been used by athletes to increase muscle mass.

Di Luca enjoys quiet day at the office

By Jean-François Quénet in Lienz

Di Luca stops to warm up
Photo ©: Sirotti
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Danilo Di Luca had a quieter day than expected on Stage 16, mainly because of the chilly weather conditions which allowed the Giro peloton to ride at 'tourist pace' for much of the stage. When the riders woke up in the Dolomite town of Agordo they were told it was snowing higher in the mountains, but the Passo Campolongo was fine for the race to go through.

"It was four degrees Celcius, not zero as we were told at the start," said Di Luca. "We thought about stopping a few times and we all agreed to do it once. It took us 15 minutes to get changed and we felt much better after that."

The average speed of the stage was 33.940 km/h. In total, it makes an average of 37.075 km/h for the Giro thus far, which is far from the 41 plus of the Tour de France although the terrain is different.

The peloton was also fearing the following stage up to the infamous Monte Zoncolan. This is the most gruelling climb of the Giro, for which Di Luca, who has been to reconnoitre the climb, has chosen to use a 34x29 gear ratio. The maglia rosa reckons this is similar to the notorious Anglirù in Spain where he finished fifth in a stage of the 2002 Vuelta a España. "I was 2'30 down on Roberto Heras," he noted. "The Giro went to the Zoncolan in 2003 but this side to be used for the first time is the steepest."

'The killer', as he is often referred to, will be looking to gain time on Eddy Mazzoleni in light of the 43km final time trial in Verona on Saturday where the Astana rider is likely to be stronger against the clock. "I have to gain time over Mazzoleni but I can stay on the wheel of the others," he said of his strategy on the Zoncolan.

While he likes to play on the nickname given to him by former Italian national team coach Roberto Damiani, who is now Predictor-Lotto's directeur sportif, Di Luca noted it doesn't represent his life outside of cycling. "As a cyclist, I have the style of a killer," he admitted. "But outside cycling, it doesn't suit me at all. I have a gun at home but it's not for use. Hey, we aren't soccer players! People don't get killed in our sport, it's not like what happened in Catania in soccer."

Garzelli calls for more wild cards

By Jean-François Quénet in Lienz

Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Stefano Garzelli claimed arguably the most impressive victory of his cycling career on Stage 16 of the Giro d'Italia but the Italian was quick to point out that his Acqua e Sapone team were nearly not in the race at all. The Giro organisers took the hard decision to include Acqua e Sapone rather than the Selle Italia-Diquigiovanni team which has a strong record at the Giro over the past 20 years.

"There should be less ProTour teams and more invited teams," said Garzelli after his second win of the race in the Austrian city of Lienz. "Some teams don't look to be happy here."

While the ProTour system has internationalised an event like the Giro, some foreign teams still send their lower level riders which doesn't always serve to animate the racing but, according to Française des Jeux directeur sportif Martial Gayant, has resulted in less collaboration between Italian teams.

"In the past there were some alliances between Italian teams who only allowed riders from the small Italian teams to go for breakaways," said Gayant. "For the past three years we haven't seen this kind of negative attitude."

Runner-up Mangel finds his niche

By Jean-François Quénet in Lienz

Mangel takes the sprint for second
Photo ©: Sirotti
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It's the Giro of the former students. The name of Laurent Mangel came out of relative anonymity when he was mentioned as one of the riders to have attended university before giving all their time and energy to cycling. When La Gazzetta dello Sport explained that the former pink jersey Marco Pinotti, an engineer, wasn't the only one who went successfully to university before, journalist Claudio Gregori also recalled that the first winner of the Giro, Luigi Ganna, in 1909, was one of the few cyclists able to read and write while many others only drew a cross as they couldn't put their signature on the start list.

Mangel completed his degree in industrial maintenance at the university of Besançon before joining Ag2r three years ago following his win at the Ruban Granitier Breton (now called Tour de Bretagne) ahead of Jussi Veikkanen and Simon Gerrans. So far, he has won a stage of the Boucles de la Mayenne in 2005 and a stage in Le Tour de Langkawi in 2006. He would have returned to Malaysia this year had it not bee for the birth of his first child, Luna, on January 23.

Now competing in his first Grand Tour, the Frenchman believes he's finally found his niche within cycling after experiencing the Spring Classics, including a breakaway at the Tour of Flanders. "I believe I've found what I'm good at," he said. "Many people have supposed I'd be a rouleur because of my format but I'm not. I'm 1.95m for 82kg, but I'm a puncheur, I can climb okay and I'm not too bad in sprint finishes in small groups. Now I realise that I can be all right in long stage races because we're in the third week and I'm feeling better and better."

Having targeted the stage to Lienz, Mangel was somewhat disappointed to win the bunch sprint which would have given him victory, had it not been for the outstanding breakaway ride of Stefano Garzelli. "It gives me mixed feelings," he said. "I came to the Giro pointing out one or two stages that I'd try and win. Today was one of them, so for the past few days I did my best to save energy for today.

"It's really good to be up there but only the first place counts in the record books. I'm disappointed although there wasn't much to do against Garzelli. When he attacked in a downhill, I first thought we'd catch him because my other breakaway companions didn't look too tired but he was too strong. He was really impressive."

Graham leads inaugural Tour de Cure ride

By Greg Johnson

Jacinta Worland poses with Lorian Graham and Maxine Seer,
Photo ©: Tour de Cure
(Click for larger image)

Former Australian women's road champion Lorian Graham is leading a star studded cast at the inaugural Tour de Cure, a charity ride from Brisbane to Sydney which is helping raise funds for three cancer-related organisations. Graham, who was injured in the German training accident which claimed the life of former teammate Amy Gillett, is completing the ride with triathlete Maxine Seer, Olympic swimmer Duncan Armstrong and a troop of everyday riders.

"There are thousands of courageous men, women, and children battling cancer every day," noted Armstrong. "So it's up to the rest of us to roll up our sleeves and do the hard work to fund research for a cure. The Tour de Cure is an opportunity to put our healthy bodies to work for people in need of a cure from cancer. Isn't that worth riding a few hundred kilometers for?"

The full crew cycling from Brisbane to Sydney in the first Australian Tour de Cure.
Photo ©: Tour de Cure
(Click for larger image)

The nine leg ride, which commenced at Brisbane's Myer Queen Street Mall on Monday, continues today with the 137 kilometre ride from Ballina to Grafton. The tour concludes on Wednesday, June 6 when the riders will be joined by ironman Guy Leech for a 91 kilometre ride from Gosford to Sydney's Pitt Street Mall.

Organisers of the event originally set a target of raising $300,000 in funds for the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and Camp Quality, but donations have already exceeded the figure. It's now hoped the figure, which currently sits at $310,076 will break the $400,000 mark.

"Our team is made up of 23 fantastic men and women who are all passionate about cycling," said event co-founder Geoff Coombes. "To be able to do something we love for such a great cause is the ultimate. Hope to see you all out there on the road!"

To follow the rider's progress, via the event's blog, or to make a donation, visit the Tour de Cure website here.

Cyclo-cross World Cup heading stateside

Following rumours in January that round one of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup series would be moved to the U.S. for the 2007/08 season, SportWereld has reported that the city of Providence, Rhode Island will indeed host the first World Cup event in American history on October 6.

The Saturday race will be followed by another event on the Sunday so that "riders can earn a little more, to compensate for their expensive trip," explained UCI Cyclo-cross co-ordinator Peter Van Den Abeele.

The second World Cup event on October 21 we be held in Kalmthout, Belgium, the more traditional home of cyclo-cross.

Latest ProTour rankings - Rebellin leading, Di Luca hot on his heels

Davide Rebellin continues to lead the ProTour, but after abandoning the Giro d'Italia before the start of Stage 11 with no stage wins, his lead is under serious threat from current third place in the rankings, Danilo Di Luca, who is only 57 points behind and is currently leading the Giro while also taking two stages thus far. A podium finish this Sunday is a virtual certainty for 'the killer' barring accident, illness or injury.

The ProTour has definitely been kind to Di Luca in the past, the inaugural winner of the series in 2005, won two stages and finished fourth overall in the 2005 Giro. This year with victory in Liege-Bastogne-Liege and an even stronger Giro so far, may very well be a repeat of that story.

The Tour of Catalonia, which was won by Vladimir Karpets, did very little to change the overall standings. In fact they were the first points the Russian scored this year and place him 13th overall. The first 12 places remain unchanged, with Euskaltel's Samuel Sanchez of Spain the only rider in the top 20 to score points, 3 for his Stage 7 victory, in Catalonia.

The Teams ranking remains in the hands of by Bjarne Riis' Danish CSC squad, with the French squad Ag2R moving up the rankings from fifth to third courtesy of the strong performance of John Gadret in Catalonia.

Other teams moving in the rankings are Saunier Duval moving from sixth to fourth, while the Dutch squad, Rabobank, slide from third to sixth despite their leader Denis Menchov's mountain top stage win in Andorra and third place overall in Catalonia. After 12 of the 27 races five teams are with in 40 points of the lead.

In the Nations ranking, Italy continues to lead with 40 points advantage over second placed Spain, with Australia trailing in third a further 101 points behind.

For the full ProTour standings, click here.

Beauce reveal teams for June tour

Tour de Beauce organisers have announced the squads which will contest this year's event. The running of the Canadian stage race's 22nd edition will be held on June 12-17.

Teams contesting the event, which include locals Team Symmetrics, American squad Team Slipstream and Australia's Saving and Loans, will face a new stage in this year's edition. Stage 2, Vallée-Jonction - Vallée-Jonction, is a difficult 170 kilometre stage which passes through Chaudiere valley, before taking in towns such as St-Sylvestre, Saint-Séverin, Saints-Anges, Frampton and Sainte-Marguerite.

Last year's winner Valery Kobzarenko (Navigators) will return with his squad to defend his crown. In all, 140 cyclists from 19 teams across the globe, including Germany and Poland, will contest next month's race.

Teams for the Tour de Beauce: Navigators Insurance, Slipstream presented by Chipotle, Kodak Gallery Pro Cycling Team, Sparkasse, Saving and Loans, Tecos, Colombias es passion, Amore & Vita-McDonald's, Team Farso Cycling, Team Symmetrics, Quebec Team, Volkswagen Trek, Garneau-Crocs, Calyon-Litespeed, Ital Pasta, Vallée de l'aluminium, La-Z-Boy, Team Race, Spin 12.

CSC Invitational announces women's teams

Arlington Sports, organiser of the CSC Invitational Pro/Am bike race, has announced the list of women's teams which will contest this year's event. The women will vie for honours over 50 laps of the one kilometre long circuit this Saturday.

Amongst those contesting the event is the Aaron's, Cheerwine, Colavita/Sutter home and TEAm Lipton - with riders including Laura Van Guilder, Shannon Hutchison-Krupat, Mackenzie Dickey slated to take part. The NRC round is also the second round of the American Criterium Championship Series.

Team's include: Aaron's Corporate Furnishings, ABRT/Latitude, Charlottesville Racing Club, Cheerwine, Colavita Sutter Home, Harris Teeter Naturals, HT Naturals/Bicycle Sport, Hub Racing, NCVC/Inova Health, Route 1 Velo/Capitol Hill, Team Kenda Tire, TEAm Lipton.

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