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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for November 6, 2007

Edited by Gregor Brown

Ekimov on building a new Team Astana

By Susan Westemeyer

Viatcheslav Ekimov the 'middle man'
Photo ©: AFP Photo
(Click for larger image)

Viatcheslav Ekimov is looking forward to the challenge of re-building Team Astana. Right now he is serving as sort of a 'middle man' between the sponsors in Kazakhstan and the new general manager Johan Bruyneel.

"I'm in the middle of all this because the guys in Kazakhstan are pretty bad with communications," the Russian said in an interview on "They do their regular job, big jobs in business and then the Federation is kind of like a hobby. But cycling is number one in Kazakhstan so they want to have a team. They have the money and they have the talent but they don't know how to run the team. That's why they were looking for new management.

"So far things have gone well. We're running late to keep our ProTour license for next year but hopefully that will work out. That's the biggest issue."

The initial contact from the sponsors was made to him. "The first contact was in early August, when they got their second positive with Andrey Kashechkin. They decided to change the management and they called me. They called me so they could establish contact with Johan. When the Discovery Channel team announced they were stopping with no sponsor the guys at Astana thought maybe Johan would become available."

It took a while for Bruyneel to change his mind about retirement, but within a few weeks, "Johan called as it was time to get back to them and by then the whole story had started in the press. We went there for the first meeting and met with the president of the Federation. We told him the things that needed to be done from the ground up to make a change in the team to recover from all the scandals and problems. We tried to impress on him the way we were used to working and they impressed us with how serious they were about the team. They were disappointed with what had happened but they still wanted to grow the team and they were ready to re-build the image of the team."

Ekimov says that the first year could be difficult, since the team will be an amalgamation of the riders currently under contract to Astana and the newcomers from Discovery Channel. "We still have 20 riders from last year and we don't want to kick them out, so the first year it will be difficult to organize and combine the guys to make them play as one team. But I think our second year we will be really good."

Two of the most notable riders still under contract to Astana are Paolo Savoldelli and Andreas Klöden. Will they be staying with the team? "That's something I don't know and would rather leave for Johan to discuss," he responded. Recent news reports have indicated that Savoldelli will return to Astana in 2008.

Kashechkin gets his day in court

By Shane Stokes

Andrey Kashechkin takes to the courts today (Tuesday) in a bid to use European law to overthrow his suspension from cycling. The Kazakh rider tested positive for a homologous blood transfusion after an anti-doping control in Turkey on August 1 but, rather than fighting it in the usual anti-doping courts, he and his lawyers are claiming that sporting authorities have no jurisdiction when it comes to running such tests on athletes.

His lawyer Luc Misson will argue in a Belgian court today that because bodies such as the International Cycling Union (UCI) and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) are private rather than public bodies, they have no legal right to interfere in the lives of individuals.

Misson co-defended Belgian footballer Jean-Marc Bosman in his successful 1995 case against restraint of trade. He told AFP that he saw parallels with the two. "The Kashechkin case, as regards [the] anti-doping [rules], could be viewed in a similar vein as the Bosman ruling. It's a case of who wins loses.

"If we lose, we will go to the court of appeal, then the Supreme Court of Appeal, then the European Court of Human Rights. And then we will be in a very good position. At the human rights court it would lead to a [favourable] decision at a world, if not a European level."

However, given that a victory by Kashechkin would plunge the anti-doping fight into chaos, it is perhaps unsurprising that several sporting bodies are hoping that the case is thrown out. The professional cycling teams associations (the International Association of Professional Cycling teams (AIGCP) and the International Professional Cycling Teams (IPCT)) have both requested to be involved in the case, rejecting the notion that only public bodies can perform such tests.

"If Kashechkin wins on the principle that only public authorities can take care of doping, then we can close shop," IPCT lawyer Jean-Louis Dupont said.

McQuaid: "Just a means to get around the fact that he was positive"

By Shane Stokes

UCI President Pat McQuaid is keen to see that the right to test athletes is upheld. "My understanding is that today's case is only a short proceeding looking for an injunction to allow him to continue racing until a full hearing [on the legality of out of competition testing] takes place," UCI President Pat McQuaid told Cyclingnews early on Tuesday.

"It could be another six or nine months before that takes place. But either way, it is a fairly serious case. Kashechkin hasn't denied that he was caught positive, he is just going against the system. If he were to win this, it would be a serious blow to the whole anti-doping fight in all sports, not just in cycling. It would have serious repercussions. For that reason, the UCI would certainly be very hopeful that he doesn't win the case."

McQuaid argues that there is a code of conduct that sports people need to adhere to, and that that is the real issue. "In my opinion, when an athlete comes into a system, he accepts the rule of the system, the rules of the sport. These guys are role models... they are paid very big sums of money and are role models for people. They must accept that there are certain things that they have to put up with as a result of that, in order that sport remains clear and fair for everybody.

"Kashechkin is trying to break that system. I think that is crazy. The majority of people feel the need for out-of-competition testing. They understand that most of the doping done in modern sport is done out-of-competition, so therefore you must have a means of testing for that. 99 percent of the athletes understand that. This is just a means for him to try and get around the fact that he was caught positive."

McQuaid was one of those who recently agreed on extensive new anti-doping measures at a summit held in Paris. The so-called biological passports further move cycling ahead of other sports in the fight against doping.

Indeed the recent Martina Hingis case illustrates the differences amongst various sporting bodies, as it took several months for it to emerge that the Swiss star had tested positive at this year's Wimbledon tournament. It was the player herself who made the news public rather than the Women's Tennis Association.

Italian cyclists play football for charity

Pozzato in action
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Filippo Pozzato organized a football match last Wednesday night for charity 'Forza Ragazzi' that saw many current and past cyclists kicking a ball instead of turning the cranks. Italian cyclists and footballers played a light-hearted game of calcio (Italian for 'football') at the stadium in San Giuseppe di Cassola, in the suburbs of Bassano del Grappa.

'Pippo' called on cyclists to help the charity of friend. "Instead of meeting at the usual discotheque, a game of football," said the winner of a stage in this year's Tour de France and one-day Classic Het Volk to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "The objective was to help the cause of Forza Ragazzi of my friend, Rino Gattuso, and if it is possible to have some fun, we will have some fun."

Franco Ballerini
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Gattuso, born in Corigliano Calabro, plays football for A.C. Milan, and set up the foundation to help disadvantaged families in his home region of Calabria. Cycling agents Claudio Pasqualin and Alessandro D'Amico helped pull the cyclists together, including current professionals Fabio Baldato, Mauro Facci, Franco Pellizotti, Matteo Tosatto and Alessandro Ballan, as well as past footballers Fanna, Maniero, Zoratto, Briaschi and Perrone.

Italian National Director Sportif Franco Ballerini, who recently led Paolo Bettini to victory in Stuttgart, was also on hand. "I suffered in the cold," he noted. "After a couple of goes on the field I could feel the fatigue, after five minutes I was almost blown, after 10 minutes – completely. I ended up on the bench at the end of the first period, but I rejoined for the last 10 minutes."


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Roberto Bettini/

Frommert optimistic as Telekom debates sponsorship

By Susan Westemeyer

Deutsche Telekom will review the most recent doping confessions and once again decide whether it will continue with its sponsorship of the T-Mobile teams, allegedly at a meeting on Wednesday. However, Christian Frommert, director of Sponsoring Communications, sounded optimistic that the company would honour its commitment, saying, "We must now deal with this situation responsibly." In addition, Team Manager Bob Stapleton confirmed his support for the team's anti-doping programme and said that the team has asked to review the official Sinkewitz investigation files.

The German telecommunications firm's most recent sports crisis was caused by Patrik Sinkewitz's confession, which appeared this week in Spiegel magazine.

In an interview with, Frommert said "We are stunned at the impudence and the unscrupulousness with which the doping continues, but there is more behind it.

"We are trying to find answers to the same questions as everyone else: Who? How? When?" he continued. "Because we can and will only make our decision on the basis of facts. We won't rush into action. ... We must gather strong facts in order to make a strong decision."

Could that decision be the one to end sponsorship? "We scrutinize our engagement all the time. The speculation of our quitting because of the doping debate has followed us for 18 months. As soon as we have something to say, we will say it. There will be a decision in the near future."

Frommert denied that the sponsor knew anything about doping on the team. "I can answer that question personally, since I stayed in the same hotel as the riders at the start of the Tour de France 2006. I knew absolutely nothing about Sinkewitz leaving the hotel and driving to Freiburg for a blood transfusion. They tell you they are going to their room. You don't know whether they all disappear out the back door. The hotel was surrounded by journalists around the clock at that time. Apparently none of them noticed it either."

As to whether the team management at the time, under the leadership of Olaf Ludwig, knew about what was happening, Frommert said, "This question also has to be cleared up. We will talk to everyone involved." Ludwig left the team last season and was replaced by Bob Stapleton, who introduced a new anti-doping programme.

One of those "involved" persons is team captain Michael Rogers, who transferred from Quick.Step to T-Mobile with Sinkewitz for the 2006 season. "We will have to talk to both the old and the new management about that," Frommert answered, adding that he assumed that Stapleton would "have a talk with Michael Rogers in light of the team's clearly-defined anti-doping policy and will then come to a decision."

Meanwhile, Stapleton has said that although he was not responsible for the team until January of this year, he will ask to be allowed to look at the files in the Sinkewitz case. "We take a fact based approach. We will review the available information when provided and act fairly and responsible within our rights," he said on the team's website, "Further, yesterday we formally requested that the UCI promptly review the Sinkewitz information regarding doping prior to our operation of the team, that has been provided directly to the UCI by the BDR or other authorities."

The American emphasized again the importance of changes that have been made at the team this year. "The interview and confessions of Patrik Sinkewitz in recent news articles confirm the necessity of the dramatic changes the sponsor and new management have made in the T-Mobile Team and the further changes needed in the sport. After we took over the team at the end of 2006 we have put in place new management, new riders, new procedures, new doctors, and a firm anti-doping policy and testing program. We continue to make more progressive changes in anticipation of the 2008 season."

Marianne Vos tops UCI rankings

Marianne Vos heads 2007 UCI Road Rankings
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Dutch cyclist Marianne Vos has taken top honours comfortably in the 2007 UCI road women's rankings. After finishing second in the overall rankings last year, the 20 year-old took a huge step forward this year to take out the title with 1325.66 points.

Vos' nearest rival and last year's winner, Nicole Cooke (GBr), finished the 2007 season with 750 points. In third place is Germany's Judith Arndt, with 709.83 points.

Vos represents a new wave of female cyclists that also includes the young Marta Bastianelli. The Italian, also 20 years old, recently won the World Championships in Stuttgart ahead of her contemporary.

Vos, who was defending her world title, won the UCI Women's Road World Cup this year and is also European U23 champion.

World Cycling Centre track trainees shine in Moscow

Trainees from the World Cycling Centre (WCC) in Aigle, Switzerland, took numerous places on the podium at the major international track competition, the Memorial of Alexander Lesnikov, in Moscow.

"The results were very good and most importantly is that they gained valuable racing experience," said a satisfied UCI Track Coach Reneé Schmidt.

Competing against 195 riders from 19 countries, the WCC trainees returned to Switzerland with nine medals between them. A week earlier they won four medals at the Hopes of Moscow competition. Both competitions were held in the Krylatskoye velodrome.

The performances were promising in light of the World Track Championships in Manchester next March and the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing in August. In the women's 500-metre time trial, the WCC trainees completed a podium hat trick, with Lisandra Guerra (Cub) first, Natasha Hansen (NZl) second and Diana Garcia (Col) third.

In the men's team sprint, two WCC teams finished on the podium, taking first place with Morne Blignaut (RSA), Ricardo Lynch (Jam) and Christopher Sellier (Tri) and third place with Hersony Canelon (Ven), Angel Pulgar (Ven) and Cesar Marcano (Ven).

Added to these results were two more gold medals from Lisandra Guerra (women's keirin) and Diana Garcia (women's sprint) plus two silver medals from Angel Pulgar (men's keirin) and Daniel Novikov (men's 1KM time trial).

WCC's next major event is the first leg of the UCI World Cup Classics in Sydney, Australia, from November 30 – December 2. The athletes will then travel directly to Beijing for the second leg of the UCI World Cup, an Olympic Test Event, from December 7 – 12.

Barloworld fills squad for 2008

By Susan Westemeyer

Team Barloworld has filled its squad for the 2008 season. After signing Italian sprinter Enrico Gasparotto and Austrian Christian Pfannberger, the team has filled the 19th and last spot with a young neo-pro rider with a familiar name, Marco Corti.

The 21 year-old happens to be the son of General Manager Claudio Corti. He has had a successful career as an amateur in Italy and rode for the Italian Junior team at the 2004 World Championships in Verona. He also rode for Barloworld this fall as a stagiaire.

Toshiba and Cycling Australia team

The gold medal hopes of Australian track cycling have been boosted by the announcement today that Toshiba (Australia) Information Systems Division (ISD) is now an official sponsor of Cycling Australia.

The partnership will involve the formation of Team Toshiba, an Australian professional track cycling team, and sponsorship of the 'The Cyclones' – the National Team. Toshiba's sponsorship provides an opportunity for more of Australia's talented track riders to compete in world class events.

The team will debut at the Sydney round of the 2007-08 UCI World Cup, commencing November 30. The World Cup event will bring together more than 400 riders from 48 nations to contest 17 events. The Cyclones, as well as contesting the World Cups, will also compete at the World Championships in March 2008 in Manchester, England.

"As a company, we feel an enormous sense of pride to be able to assist Australian cyclists further their careers and attempt to secure gold around the globe," said Mark Whittard, General Manager, Toshiba Information Systems Division.

"Toshiba's support will provide extra pedalling power for our athletes and give more of our talented cyclists an opportunity to shine," said Graham Fredericks, Chief Executive Officer of Cycling Australia. "As an organisation we feel Australia's chances heading towards the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing are heightened dramatically with Toshiba's support."

Team Toshiba will boast a stellar line up of Australian talent including dual Olympic gold medallist, Ryan Bayley and reigning Olympic and World Champion, Anna Meares.

"It's fabulous that Toshiba is backing the track programme and I know the support they give us will be crucial in our bid for gold," noted Meares. "Team Toshiba has an outstanding roster of experienced performers and some promising young talent and I expect we'll post some great results during the season."

The complete team roster is Ryan Bayley, Jack Bobridge, Peter Dawson, Zakkari Dempster, Daniel Ellis, Mark Jamieson, Shane Kelly, Anna Meares, Cameron Meyer and Scott Sunderland.

Following the sponsorship of the Soccer World Cup in 2006 and Rugby World Cup in early 2007, Toshiba continues its commitment to Australian sports by supporting Cycling Australia. As part of the exclusive sponsorship, Toshiba will have advertising and signage rights for Team Toshiba and The Cyclones, as well as access to the nation's top cyclists.

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2007)