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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for November 1, 2007

Edited by Hedwig Kröner, with assistance of Susan Westemeyer

Di Luca's future uncertain

Danilo Di Luca
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

It is clear where Danilo Di Luca won't be riding in 2008, but it is not at all clear which jersey he will be wearing. "It is definite that I won't be wearing the Liquigas jersey next season," he said in an interview with Sportensverden.dk. "I have received an offer from Bjarne Riis and Team CSC, but I don't know yet where I'll be riding next year."

But that is not so, according to CSC spokesman Brian Nygaard, who told Cyclingnews, "I can definitely deny that we have made an offer to Di Luca and he is not a rider that we have any plans on bringing to the team."

Looking back, the Italian said, "It was really a remarkable season. As far as the results are concerned, with victories both in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Giro d'Italia, it was without doubt the best season in my career. But I also have to admit that the end was a bit tainted, even though I still think that it's incredibly unfair."

Di Luca had to withdraw from the Italian national team only days before the Worlds road race, under pressure from the Stuttgart organisers, who had filed a lawsuit to prevent his participation. He was later suspended for three months for his involvement in the "Oil for Drugs" affair. Di Luca had been leading the ProTour rankings until the suspension was announced the middle of October.

"It was really unfair," he continued. "On the grounds of debatable decisions, I lost the chance to represent my country and take part in a world championship race where the course suited me incredibly well. Others were allowed to start, but their situation was different from my own. They weren't exposed to such a crazy show as I had to go through."

Courtesy of Katharina Schulz

The icing of the cake

An interview with Hanka Kupfernagel

Hanka Kupfernagel (Germany) grits her teeth
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Hanka Kupfernagel had one goal in mind this year, to win the time trial gold medal at the World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. With determination and the right preparation she managed to deliver an impeccable ride to beat defending champion Kristin Armstrong. Kupfernagel told Cyclingnews' Bjorn Haake how she did it.

33 year-old Hanka Kupfernagel stunned the road racing world when she took the gold medal in the time trial in Stuttgart. More noted for her skills in cyclo-cross, where she has gained three World Championships and sat atop the UCI rankings in 2006-2007, Kupfernagel is an extraordinarily versatile rider who has had success on the road, track and mountain bike as well.

Kupfernagel, a silver medalist in the 2000 Olympic road race in Sydney, Australia, had proven herself on the road before she switched her main focus to cyclo-cross after her success in Sydney. Along with numerous German road race championships, she also demonstrated her abilities against the clock by winning the German title in 2002. She also had good performances in 2006, finishing third in the 21-kilometre time trial of the Tour de Feminin - Krasna Lipa in the Czech Republic and fourth in stage four of the Thüringen-Rundfahrt, a race held on the streets where she grew up.

Kupfernagel didn't have a chance to show her skills at last year's Worlds, as she did not get an invitation from the German coach, Jochen Dornbusch. This year, she put all her energy into making the team so she could race in her native Germany. Stuttgart is only a couple of hours drive from her adopted domicile near Freiburg, in southwestern Germany. The whole year was dedicated to the time trial, and Kupfernagel kept focused her training to peak for the race in late September.

The preparation, which included stage races with the national team and motorpacing while riding her time trial bike, paid off. The first big success was the time trial win in stage 4a of the Emakumeen Bira, near Bilbao in northern Spain. "It was my first international time trial win," Kupfernagel explained why this victory was so important. She then confidently tackled her next goal, the national time trial championship. The race was held shortly after the Emakumeen Bira, on June 24. Kupfernagel won the black-red-gold jersey ahead of Charlotte Becker. With that goal reached, she went into the road race a week later with less pressure.

To read the full feature on Hanka Kupfernagel, please click here.

Rogers not investigated

What happened on the T-Mobile Team in 2006 belongs to the past and has nothing to do with the current team, according to team manager Bob Stapleton. Former T-Mobile pro Patrik Sinkewitz had claimed that doping had been organised on the squad even in 2006. "Those events took place under the prior management and show the problems at the time the new management stepped in," Stapleton told Cyclingnews on Thursday, November 1. "The sponsor clearly saw problems and acted."

Stapleton took over the team as of January 2007. He emphasized that the squad is now focusing on the young riders it has signed, such as Gerald Ciolek and Mark Cavendish, or newcomer Edwald Boasson Hagen. "They represent the hope for the future of this sport. This is fundamental."

He added that while he would have liked to have signed Erik Zabel for the coming season, it was not possible. "Zabel has a contract with Milram for 2008 and we don't interfere with that." Zabel could have helped "athletes like Ciolek, Cavendish and Hagen develop, who I believe are the future, credible stars of the sport."

Michael Rogers (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: Anthony Tan
(Click for larger image)

Meanwhile, Christian Frommert, director of sponsoring communications for parent company Deutsche Telekom, denied that he told the German tabloid BILD that the company was investigating Australian pro Michael Rogers, who denied having been involved in doping practices. "I never gave them that quote," he told Cyclingnews. "I was asked if I was surprised about the things going on in Freiburg [at the University Clinic, which was searched by police - ed.] and I said, these are the consequences after the story from Sinkewitz."

56 nations up for Olympic Games

On Wednesday, the UCI has released the list of qualified nations for the Men's Elite events of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. The distribution of places was done based on ProTour and Continental Circuits rankings, resulting in a list of 56 nations to battle out the Olympic titles next year.

Nine countries will see the maximum of five riders at the start of the road race in August next year, amongst them the traditional cycling nations: Italy, Belgium, France, Germany, Australia, Spain, the United States, the Netherlands and Russia. Great Britain, Norway, Slovenia and Ukraine will represented by four riders each.

There will also be 33 countries invited to send respectively one or two athletes to the Olympic time trial. These must be the same riders that had already been selected for the road race.

The distribution will evolve based on confirmations from the National Olympic Committees. The final re-awarding of places will be made between April and July 2008, with the awarding of places for the women's events scheduled for May 31, 2008.

Lab director alleges blood doping at Tour

The director of the WADA-accredited Swiss Laboratory for Analysis of Doping in Lausanne, Switzerland, has told Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws that he believed there was still widespread doping in the Tour de France this year. "47 out of 189 riders raced on blood transfusions or EPO," Martial Saugy alleged. "We have been able to show this from the samples taken at the health controls."

Still, Saugy added that these test results did not fulfil the requirements to be declared as 'positive'. "It is appalling, but we find so many test results that undoubtedly point to manipulation," he continued. "But there is a big difference between a suspicious sample and one that can be declared positive."

Saugy also found indications for the use of testosterone and growth hormone. "Especially the latter product is very popular at the moment," he added. "As soon as there will be a water-proof test for growth hormone, it will show that 80 percent [of the peloton] is taking it. I am disillusioned: the use of growth hormone is as bad as was the use of EPO and blood doping in the 90's."

Uni Clinic search details

Patrik Sinkewitz' testimony before the German cycling federation led to the raids yesterday at the Freiburg University Clinic and the homes of former team doctors Andreas Schmid and Lothar Heinrich. Investigators looked for information concerning organized doping on Team T-Mobile in 2006, but experts on money laundering and tax evasion were also included on the search team.

Schmid and Heinrich are under investigation for having organized "fraudulent manipulation" of Teams T-Mobile/Telekom, according to the Badische Zeitung. In addition, they are said to have "gained an extensive financial profit from the fraud."

Head public prosecutor Wolfgang Maier refused to comment on whether the investigators were looking for a blood bank which was allegedly established in a basement room of the Clinic, but did tell the Süddeutsche Zeitung that they were looking for "documents concerning the storage and use of blood bags." Maier emphasized that "Blood doping is illegal – for both those who receive it and those who make it possible."

According to the Badische Zeitung it is not known whether there was any evidence still to be found. The first mention of problems with the Uni Clinic came in late April, and the newspaper reported that there was much activity at that time in the doctors' offices, with "many men carrying suitcases out of the rooms." The newspaper alleged that "even in the last few weeks more incriminating material concerning doping activities has been removed."

White expects fierce competition in Noosa

Retiring professional cyclist and one of three new directors at Slipstream for 2008, Matt White, is expecting the competition to be fierce for the AUS $50,000 on offer this weekend at the South Bank Grand Prix in Noosa, Queensland. "The hotdog circuit is tough and 50 minutes going for it makes for a very hard race," the previous winner of the event told Cyclingnews.

With such a big prize purse on offer, it is no wonder that the cream of Australian cycling talent is heading to the Queensland Holiday town of Noosa to try and steal the glory. World class sprinters, the caliber of Robbie McEwen, Stuart O'Grady, Baden Cooke, Jimmy Casper and two time winner of the event, Alan Davis will be hoping that they can keep the strong field together so that they can unleash their powerful sprints to take the winner-takes-all prize.

"A break may be able to stay away and win, like when I won a few years back, but it's a fast race, and with the sprinters there it will be hard, they will obviously want it to come down to a bunch kick," White explained.

Team tactics will also play a part in the race. McEwen will have devoted domestique Nick Gates at his side, while the Unibet.com squad will have recent Sun Tour winner Matt Wilson lining up with 2003 Tour de France green jersey winner Baden Cooke, along with two more than competent sprinters in Jeremy Hunt and Jimmy Casper who have been enjoying the Australian sun since the Sun Tour ended 10 days ago. Whatever the outcome, White believes that the race will be a huge attraction during the weekend of sport in Noosa. "It's always an exciting race," he concluded.

Saturday's event marks the beginning of a series of high profile criteriums in Queensland, culminating in the Australian Criterium Championships being held in Brisbane on December 2.

For more information on the event as well as the Grand Prix of Cycling, click here .

Australian team for 2008 Oceania Champs

Cycling Australia has announced the Australian contingent to contest the 2008 Oceania Championships being staged in Invercargill, New Zealand from November 14-18, 2007.

The Elite Men team will consist of: Ryan Bayley (WA), Daniel Ellis (ACT), Sean Finning (VIC), Michael Fitzgerald (WA), Mark French (VIC), Mark Jamieson (TAS), Shane Kelly (VIC), Ben Kersten (NSW), Joel Leonard (VIC), Cameron Meyer (WA), Travis Meyer (WA), Jason Niblett (VIC), Glenn O'Shea (VIC), Shane Perkins (VIC), J L Rathbone (NSW), Scott Sunderland (WA) and Phil Thuaux (NSW).

For the Elite Women events, the following riders have been selected: Skye-Lee Armstrong (NSW), Ruth Corset (QLD), Rochelle Gilmore (NSW), Laura McCaughey (TAS), Kaarle McCulloch (NSW), Anna Meares (QLD), Kerrie Meares (QLD) and Bridie O'Donnell (VIC).

In the U19 races, Jamie Crass (VIC), Paul Fellows (NSW), Peter Johnstone (VIC), Matthew Meisel-Dennis (ACT), Lachlan Ritchie (VIC) and Ben Sanders (VIC) will be starting in the Men's category, whereas Annette Edmondson (SA) and Chloe Hosking (ACT) have been selected amongst the ladies.

Totschnig setting up U23 team

Georg Totschnig retired from professional cycling at the end of the 2006 season, but he hasn't turned his back on the sport. The Tour de France stage winner is now involved in helping to set up an U23 team in Austria.

"We are establishing a team which can count on the support of the state of Tirol and which will be its sponsor," he said in an interview with Sport1.at. "I have the role of an advisor." So far, he noted, "I am supporting business manager Thomas Pupp in his search for sponsors and with the organization."

They are concentrating on the U23 age group for a reason. "It is our goal to close the gap between juniors and professionals, because there has never been an U23 Team in this form in Tirol. We won't have anything to do with the ProTour. We will stay in the U23 area. The next three years are already assured."

The Austrian admitted that the search for additional sponsors "is not easy, but possible. And especially in times like these, it is important to set a sign. I was happy when I was asked to help with this project because it is exactly what I can do to help this sport."

Vogels' annual fundraising dinner coming up

The Henk Vogels Cycling Foundation has announced its Annual Fundraising Dinner, taking place on Friday, November 16. Star sprinter Robbie McEwen has also agreed to attend this year's event, to be held at the Italian Club in Fremantle, Western Australia.

Items up for auction include a signed Robbie McEwen's green jersey, an original painting of McEwen by Peter Fitzsimmons and an Australian Team Jersey signed by Cadel Evans, Michael Rogers & Cameron Meyer.

Tickets to attend the dinner can be purchased at the foundation's website.

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