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Latest Cycling News for November 14, 2007

Edited by Gregor Brown

Saunier Duval contemplates Danilo Di Luca signing

By Gregor Brown and Monika Prell

Di Luca looks towards 2008 season
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Saunier Duval is reportedly interested in signing 2007 Giro d'Italia champion Danilo Di Luca. Spanish media has reported that the ProTour team's directeur sportif, Joxean Fernández Matxin, has spoken with the 31 year-old from Abruzzo. However, a recent three-month suspension by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) has made contract negations difficult for the rider who rode for Liquigas during the last three seasons.

"It would be a pleasure to work with Di Luca, but I think the team is already complete for 2008; maybe we can talk about it in the next year," said Saunier Duval Directeur Sportif Matteo Algeri to Cyclingnews Wednesday morning when questioned about the news from Spain. "We don't know about the future of the ProTour, and the rules for surrounding the signing Di Luca are confusing. In my opinion it is better to wait; right now, unfortunately, it would be difficult to sign Di Luca."

However, Basque daily Diario Vasco confirmed Matxin is discussing a contract with the rider known as 'The Killer.' "We are interested in Di Luca and we are talking with him," affirmed the team's main contact in Spain. "Still, nothing is signed."

The Italian is currently on holiday in Polynesia. Upon his return this Sunday he will make a decision about his future contract and if he will appeal CONI's suspension to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Besides Saunier Duval, it is reported that he also has offers from Lampre-Fondital, Acqua & Sapone and LPR.

ProTour Team Lampre already has a contender for the Grand Tours in Damiano Cunego. The 2004 Giro winner confirmed to Cyclingnews that he had not heard anything of Di Luca joining his team. "I have heard the news, and I know to make a decision like this that they would first ask me – and I have not heard anything."

Italian Professional Continental Teams Acqua & Sapone and LPR might offer reasonable options for Di Luca. The former is run by Palmiro Masciarelli, who has strong links with Di Luca as they are from neighbouring regions in the south and they have worked together in the past at Team Cantina Tollo. Switzerland-based Team LPR would be a likely home but, as with Acqua & Sapone, funding Di Luca contract would be an issue, and it has already engaged Paolo Savoldelli.

Algeri confirmed that Saunier has men for the Grand Tours even with Gilberto Simoni's departure to the team of Gianni Savio. "For the Giro – [Riccardo] Riccò, and for the Tour I think it will be [José Angel Gomez] Marchante." In addition, the team managed by Mauro Gianetti has searched for a second title sponsor with no avail. "At the moment we have just Saunier Duval," concluded Algeri to Cyclingnews. Prodir will still be involved with the team it has sponsored since 2004 but not as a title sponsor.

Matxin affirmed to Diario Vasco that Saunier Duval is "in contact with various companies that could become a co-sponsor on our jerseys so that we have the funds to go about this contract." Should the team sign Di Luca, it is likely that his home region of Abruzzo would provide sponsorship - reportedly a sum of one million euro.

"At the moment we have various options of co-sponsors, and this gives us certain tranquillity," Matxin continued. "We don't want to waste a lot of time with the decision. ... Di Luca or not, we may sign another rider." The final roaster could come before the team's first meeting in Noja, Spain, December 1 and 5.

Matxin confirmed that Saunier Duval will go on sponsoring its amateur team and also a Spanish Continental team. "It [the continental team] will be the successor of the Grupo Nicolás Mateos, with José Luis De Santos as directeur." Matxin stated that some "good Basque riders" will be in its ranks.

"It's a pity that we have not been able to go on with [Javier] Etxarri, [Rubén] Reig and Sergio Domínguez, but we have some good hopes." The three Spaniards are going to ride with the new Professional Continental formation of Nicolás Mateos.

Savoldelli to leave Astana for LPR

Savoldelli to LPR
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Paolo Savoldelli, winner of the 2002 and 2005 Giro d'Italia, is set to leave Astana and sign for Team LPR. The 34 year-old Italian rider from Bergamo already has an agreement with the team's new Team Manager, Fabio Bordonali, that will be formalized in the coming days, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

'Il Falco Bergamasco' will leave ProTour Team Astana where he would have been linked again with Belgian Johan Bruyneel, the incoming team manager. Savoldelli was contractually linked with Marc Biver, the former leader of Astana, who during this season was faced with the doping scandals of Matthias Kessler, Alexander Vinokourov and Andrey Kashechkin.

Bordonali, the ex-team manager of Tenax, acquired the management of Team LPR from Davide Boifava, who for now is leaving the upper echelons of cycling. Even though the team does not have invites to the biggest races because it is a second tier team – or Professional Continental – it is likely to be the third most important Italian team after Liquigas and Lampre-Fondital (Milram will ride with a German or Dutch ProTour license in 2008).

In the next days, Bordonali has on his task list the bicycle sponsorship renewal of Pinarello – the Treviso-based company might also become a secondary title sponsor.

Four time trials slated for 2008 Giro d'Italia

Time trial time in the Giro d'Italia
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

There are four time trials that are likely to appear in the 2008 Giro d'Italia, May 10 to June 1. The official parcours will be presented on December 1, in Milan, but Cyclingnews has learned of the timed tests that will mark the 91st running of the Corsa Rosa.

Unlike the 2008 Tour de France, which has notably less time trial kilometres than recent years, the Giro will feature bookend time trials and two in between. The Italian Grand Tour, which is already known to be staring in Sicily, will kick off with a 26-kilometre team time trial in Palermo. This year's edition started with a 25.6-kilometre team test.

In addition to a mid-race individual time trial, there will also be a mountain time trial on the climb of Plan de Corones (likely around 15 kilometres.) Finally, ending like it started, the Giro will include a 30-kilometre time trial in the city renowned for fashion, Milano.

The Giro included a timed mountain test this year to the Santuario Di Oropa, but it has not seen an individual time trail on the final day in some years.

Fothen blasts Bettini in regards to Riders' Agreement

Markus Fothen wins a stage of Romandie
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

German Markus Fothen of Team Gerolsteiner blasted two-time World Champion Paolo Bettini last night on the German television station ARD for failing to sign the UCI's 'Riders' commitment for a new cycling.

Fothen agreed with the UCI's strategy of increasing the number of doping controls. "The more controls there are, the better," said Fothen. "The harder the anti-doping test, the better. And I will voluntary sign almost any document that is subject to vouch for my honour. ... However, I ask if any of this has sense when in Stuttgart [World Championships] the only one that did not sign becomes World Champion.

"An incomprehensible decision," he said of Bettini's refusal to sign the agreement. "Now it is him that lives together with the suspects."

Italian National Directeur Sportif Franco Ballerini responded to Fothen's comments by saying the 26 year-old German ignored the fact that the Italian of Quick.Step only refused to give up his salary in the case of a positive anti-doping control. "Evidently he did not pay attention because Bettini has signed all three fundamental points of the UCI document," Ballerini said to Agr. "If Fothen had read Bettini's declaration well he would not have made this error in judgement."

Cordero happy for Angliru's media attention

By Antonio J. Salmerón

One day after the General Sport director of Asturias, Misael Fernández Porrón, revealed that the Alto de l'Angliru and Fuentes de Invierno would be part of the 2008 Vuelta a España, the race's director Victor Cordero declined to confirm that the feared ascent would be a part of the 2008 event, but did acknowledge that it is an important feature. "Unfortunately, we need the Angliru climb to catch the public's attention," Cordero said during a conference Mieres, Spain

Cordero did not confirm Fernández Porrón's announcement that the Angliru and Fuentes de Invierno climbs would be used in the Vuelta 2008, but acknowledged to lne.es that, "there would be two significant mountain-top arrivals."

The 12.55-kilometre climb to Angliru last featured in the 2002 Vuelta, and is renowned for its stiff gradients – there is a sector of 23.6 percent in the final three kilometres. Spaniard Roberto Heras won five years ago, and before him it was Italian Gilberto Simoni (2000) and the late José Maria Jiménez (1999).

Tuesday's conference was also attended by several professional riders, such as the Asturias riders José Luis Rubiera (Discovery Channel), Carlos Barredo (Quick.Step - Innergetic), Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Santiago Pérez (Relax-GAM) and Benjamin Noval (Discovery Channel). The riders were of different opinions in regards to the Angliru's possible inclusion in the Vuelta, which in the past brought many problems.

Rubiera stressed that "the Angliru is too hard ... it is impossible, even if hearing that it is what keeps cycling alive." Cordero added, "We know that we can not include it every year in the Vuelta because it would burn out [the riders]."

CSF Inox Group joins team Navigare

The Reverberi squadra
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

CSF Inox Group and Navigare will officially join forces this Friday at an exhibition in Milan. The CSF Inox Group will present to all guests, press and visitors of the 22th SIMEI, International Machinery Exhibition for Enology and Bottling, its sponsorship of the Professional Continental Panaria-Navigare team managed by Bruno and Roberto Reverberi.

CSF Inox S.p.A. of Montecchio Emilia, Italy, is a business that produces various models of pumps and valves for the food and beverage and pharmaceutical industries, with a turnover of almost 50 million euro and approximately 250 employees, subdivided into smaller units with offices in Montecchio Emilia, Fornovo di Taro and Rubiera. It will present its new commitment to cycling, alongside with Paride Grillo, Julio Pérez and Emanuele Sella, three of the top riders in the 2008 roster.

The event will also be attended by Massimo Brunetti, manager of Navigare, which is the second sponsor of the team. The presentation will include the official unveiling of the CSF Group - Navigare team jersey.

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