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Latest Cycling News for November 19, 2007

Edited by Gregor Brown

Pevenage indicates that Ullrich doped for 1997 Tour de France victory

By Susan Westemeyer

Pressure builds around Jan Ullrich
Photo ©: AFP
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Rudy Pevenage has indicated that Jan Ullrich may have been using doping products when he won the Tour de France in 1997. Focus magazine reported Monday that in a secretly-taped conversation between ex-Team Telekom soigneur Jef d'Hont and Ullrich mentor Pevenage, the former noted Ullrich came to the team as a good rider and did what the others did.

"Yes, and he won the Tour with it too, didn't he?" said Pevenage, which the magazine interpreted as meaning that Ullrich used EPO (Erythropoietin) to help him win the Tour.

According to the magazine, a meeting at d'Hont's house on March 16 of this year, Pevenage admitted to having advised Ullrich and others on blood doping. He said, about "30 to 40 percent" of the riders were informed of the practice, but later they all knew about it. "You gave up a half-litre of blood three weeks before. And it is well-stored. Good, you feel a little weak for the first two or three days, but then you start to recover... You feel a lot better and then at that point you get back that extra half-litre," Pevenage described the process.

Even Lance Armstrong's name came up in the conversation. "I don't understand why Jan could never beat the other one [Armstrong - ed.]," Pevenage said, and wondered about his blood values. "One day someone told me the American is unbelievable. He starts the Tour with a hematocrit value of 46 and at the end his still has 46. How can he do that?" questioned Pevenage. "With blood doping," suggested d'Hont.

The article pointed to evidence uncovered by Belgian authorities during a search of Pevenage's house last year that he and Ullrich were clients of Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. The investigators allegedly found travel documents for "several" short trips to Madrid.

One of those trips may have occurred during the Giro d'Italia 2006. German doping experts Angel Alonso and Werner Franke, and Franke's attorney, Michael Lehner, have all given sworn statements saying that chief Spanish investigator Enrique Gomez Bastida told them of a visit by Ullrich to Fuentes in the spring of 2006, the magazine reported. According to their statements, "As to the question whether Ullrich was in Spain this year, Herr Gomez Bastida answered yes. Herr Gomez Bastida gave the date of May 10, 2006." That was a rest day during the Giro, when the peloton travelled from Belgium to Italy Eight days later Ullrich won the time trial in Pontedera.

Ullrich has repeatedly denied knowing Fuentes or having used doping products.

Beltrán looks to 2008 Tour and Vuelta

By Monika Prell

Beltrán, 36, during the Tour de France
Photo ©:
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Manuel Beltrán aims to ride the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España next year. The 36 year-old Spaniard of Team Liquigas noted to that he is uncertain of his complete 2008 programme, but that the two Grand Tours would be the main focus.

"I still don't know what will be the objectives for the next season, but it's for sure that my principal wish is to ride the Vuelta a España and the Tour de France. These are two great races, I still feel very great [riding them]," noted Beltrán. This year, he finished ninth in the Vuelta and was second on stage 15 from Villacarillo to Granada, only beaten by Samuel Sánchez.

Liquigas will have two training camps in the off-season. The first one is from November 25 to 30, at an Italian health resort, where the intention will be to relax and be fitted for new team equipment. The second one is from December 10 to 22 in Spain.

"I will know my schedule of the season in the first days of January, even if the first competitions of the year [come soon] in Australia and South Africa," concluded Beltrán.

Zanini wants to continue

Stefano Zanini's retirement was announced recently, however, the 38 year-old rider from Varese wants to continue racing. He confirmed during the International Meeting of Medicine and Sport that he intends to compete in 2008.

"I wish to clarify once and for all my position," he said to "How you have heard, I have not been confirmed for Predictor-Lotto's 2008 team and, at this moment, I am waiting for other offers to race in the coming season.

"I want to underline that I have never announced that I want stop activity with the end of the 2007 season," 'Zsa-Zsa' Zanini continued. "I still feel very motivated to continue riding at the high level – I absolutely have not stopped the life of a professional cyclist, and I even have a winter training programme."

The first Italian to win the Amstel Gold Race (in 1996) said he has received offers to continue racing.

Valverde faces competition from rally car

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Cold temperatures did not stop thousands of fans from attending the second edition of the Critérium Ciudad de Murcia yesterday in Spain. Race organizer Meta 21 held multiple events that were contested by some of cycling's best – Alejandro Valverde, Samuel Sánchez, Stefano Garzelli, Joaquím Rodríguez, Francisco Mancebo, Oscar Sevilla, Ángel Vicioso, Iñigo Cuesta – and a large selection of local cyclists.

The event began with a ceremony of presentation of the 27 professional cyclists, in addition to the U23 and elite riders. It was followed by a ceremonial ribbon cutting with local authorities and last year's winner, Valverde.

The first race was noted by the lively performance of Relax-GAM's Oscar Sevilla. He made it clear that the points race victory would be his, which is what ended up happening, but not without fight from the local riders. A team time trial was next. It was won by a quartet of road national champion Rodríguez (Caisse d'Epargne), national track medallist Eloy Teruel Rovira (Grupo Nicolás Mateos), 2005 San Sebastián winner Constantino Zaballa (Caisse d'Epargne) and U23 rider Pedro Jose Fructuoso (Agüera).

However, the media focused on face-to-face between Valverde and the Peugeot 205 national rally-car piloted by Alfonso Pérez Sánchez. The winner of the 2006 Liège-Bastogne-Liège took top honours. He completed two rounds of a near 700-metre city circuit in three minutes and six seconds, while Pérez Sánchez completed five rounds (to offset differences) with a time of three minutes and 53 seconds.

In the elimination it was José Joaquín Rojas (Caisse d'Epargne) who won in the sprint against his team-mate Valverde. Thanks to finishing second in the elimination and second behind Sevilla in the points race, 'The Green Bullet' won the overall competition of the Critérium Ciudad de Murcia.

Stalder and Hungerbühler renew with Team Volksbank

By Susan Westemeyer

Florian Stalder in Tour de Suisse
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Swiss riders Florian Stalder and Pascal Hungerbühler have extended their contracts with Team Volksbank, the Austrian Professional Continental team announced this morning. It also announced that the team will meet on November 29 in Götzis, Austria, for team-building activities.

Stalder, 25, extended through 2009. He won the points jersey at this year's Tour de Suisse. "Florian has a great future in front of him," said Team Manager Thomas Kofler, calling him a "sympathetic and aggressive rider and pro with an ideal attitude."

Stalder turned pro in 2005 with Ed' System ZVVZ, and rode for Phonak in 2006 before joining Volksbank this season. "The environment and the race programme are optimal. I feel good here. What really makes me happy is that they are showing me trust for the next two years. That doesn't always happen in times like this."

He hopes to get his first pro win in the coming season. "I nearly won a couple of times this year. The time is ripe to make a big step forward." One of those near misses this year was the Giro del Veneto, where he finished a close second behind Alessandro Bertolini.

Hungerbühler, 30, signed for one more year. "He will prove once again to be an untiring attacker," Kofler said. He has been with Volksbank since 2003.

Marc Lotz close to contract with DFL-Cyclingnews

By Susan Westemeyer

Marc Lotz is hoping to return to professional cycling after sitting out a two-year suspension for using EPO. The 34 year-old Belgian plans to sign with the Belgian Professional Continental Team DFL-Cyclingnews, run by former professional Eric Vanderaerden. . "I hope that the formalities are all taken care of at the UCI, because I am itching to return as a pro," he told the Dutch website He has been riding for the amateur team Löwik the last few months.

Lotz rode for Team Rabobank from 1998 to 2004, before joining Team Quick.Step-Innergetic in 2005. He resigned from the team in June of that year, announcing that he had used EPO in his preparations for the Tour de France. The drug was found in his refrigerator during a police search. The Belgian cycling federation gave him the two-year suspension, which ended on June 1, 2007.

Petacchi to become a dad during 2008 Giro d'Italia

Petacchi soon to be a dad.
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Alessandro Petacchi and his wife Anna Chiara are expecting their first child, who is expected during the 2008 Giro d'Italia, May 10 to June 1. According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, the 33 year-old Milram sprinter announced the news yesterday during the presentation of the 2008 De Nardi calendar in Castel Brando di Vittorio Veneto, which he will feature in with model Federica Ridolfi.

Anna Chiara, 31, is in her third month of pregnancy.

The couple met at the end of the 2002 season during a party to celebrate the World Championship win of Mario Cipollini, and they married two years later, December 30, 2004.

Voting opens for Australia's People's Choice award.

Voting is open to decide the winner of the Scody 2007 People's Choice Cyclist of the Year to be presented at the Australian Cyclist of the Year Awards on December 14, 2007. The competition has been finalized to five cyclists: Cadel Evans, Sam Hill, Anna Meares, Stuart O'Grady and Michael Rogers

Votes can be lodged on Cycling Australia's website Voting will be open until midnight November 27.

The Scody People's Choice Cyclist of the Year will be presented at the cycling's gala presentation of the Australian Cyclist of the Year Awards being staged at the National Wine Centre in Adelaide on December 14, 2007. Awards will be presented in a range of categories and the night will celebrate the outstanding achievements of Australia's cyclists on the world stage in 2007. The final award of the night will be the presentation of the "Sir Hubert Opperman Medal" to the 2007 Australian Cyclist of the Year.

The People's Choice award has been added to encourage Australian cycling fans to have their say and to give them the chance to win the ultimate evening with some of Australia's champion cyclists as part of the prize pack.

Scody sponsors Australian national titles

Queensland sports apparel manufacturer Scody has been announced as the new major sponsor of the Australian Open Road Championships, held over five days from January 9 to 13. The titles will be raced on the traditional Buninyong circuits at Ballarat, with individual time trials on the first two days, followed by a rest day and then the road races on the Saturday and Sunday.

Championships' Director John Craven described Scody's involvement as a "tremendously exciting boost for Australian cycling's showcase event." Craven noted the Scody agreement was for two years and, combined with excellent support from the City of Ballarat, Tourism Victoria and other commercial sponsors, the future for the Championships had never looked brighter.

"To secure sponsorship stability is a major factor in the long-term success of any sports event, and the Scody Australian Open Road Championships now has that," he said.

"The City of Ballarat is an incredibly-supportive sponsor of Australian cycling, and has the outstanding terrain and reputation to host a marvellous Championships next January."

Scody Managing Director Bernard Schreiber stated he was thrilled to be the Championships' major sponsor for the next two years.

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