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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for November 20, 2007

Edited by Gregor Brown

Llaneras recalls Gent and Gálvez's tragic death

By Susan Westemeyer

Painful memories: Llaneras (l) and Gálvez (r) during 2006 Gent Six Day
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
Click for larger image

The Gent Six Day race of 2006 came to a tragic end with the death of Isaac Gálvez in a freak accident. The Spaniards riding partner of last year, Juan Llaneras, is not competing in the 2007 event, telling, "I can't manage that."

The 67th edition of the race starts this evening and runs through Sunday.

He will not even be there for the dedication of a memorial plaque for his deceased friend. "I try to erase the events of the previous year from my memory, but I haven't succeeded. Isaac's wife has been to Gent, but it is not possible for me – really not. I have not yet digested it all. A year later, it is still all too painful."

The 38 year-old has continued to ride, winning the point championship at the Worlds in Mallorca this year. "I rode there on a cloud of enthusiasm. Everyone in the full-velodrome helped me achieve the win. Isaac gave me strength to pass Keisse and Ignatiev. ... On the podium, I pictured Gent. Joy and grief were joined together in one gold medal."

Llaneras still remembers every detail of the fatal accident. "A fall like that happens often on the track, I thought. But it immediately became clear to me that this was serious when everyone went into a panic. I stood by and looked on helplessly. I got in touch with Isaac's wife. It was hard but I found the right words. The memory of the applause as they carried Isaac off the track still cuts me like a knife.

"When I got word of his death, my world collapsed," he concluded sadly. He thought of retiring, but "that wouldn't have helped anybody." Since then, "I fight back. For myself, for my supporters and for Isaac. I dedicate every victory to him."

Llaneras still has one major goal left, "Olympic gold in Beijing. In the autumn of a superb career, I want to scrape together everything I can, just once more. It hurts, but it has to be. Isaac gave me the strength on Mallorca to carry on. It won't be any different in Beijing. Together we will end my career."

For more on Gálvez read Gent Six Day ends in "nightmare".

Bordonali expects Di Luca signature today

Di Luca likely to sign for Team LPR
Photo ©: Régis Garnier
(Click for larger image)

LPR Team Manager Fabio Bordonali is expecting to have a contract finalized with 2007 Giro d'Italia champion Danilo Di Luca this afternoon according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. The 31 year-old Italian from Abruzzo is likely to sign a one-year contract with an optional year extension with the Professional Continental Team. The former Liquigas rider is currently serving a three-month suspension issued by his country's Olympic Committee (CONI) for involvement in the 2004 Oil for Drugs affair.

"It's true, tomorrow he will sign with us," said Bordonali. Earlier Di Luca had been linked with Saunier Duval.

Team LPR is building for a strong 2008 season with the arrival of Di Luca and after the recent acquisition of two-time Giro winner Paolo Savoldelli. The Giro d'Italia will be the main focus of the Switzerland-registered team. It is expected to also announce the arrival of a secondary sponsor today; bike manufacturer Pinarello, which will provide the team in 2008, has been noted as a possible title sponsor alongside LPR.

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

Liquigas announces 2008 squadra

Di Luca departs as Bennati and Franzoi join the acid green team

Filippo Pozzato gave Liquigas an important Tour de France stage win
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Liquigas has announced its line-up for 2008. The Italian ProTour team will have seven new arrivals, including super sprinter Daniele Bennati and cyclo-cross specialist Enrico Franzoi. Meanwhile, Team President Paolo Dal Lago offered a farewell to Danilo Di Luca, who brought the team wins in the 2005 Amstel Gold and Flčche Wallonne and the 2007 Ličge-Bastogne-Ličge and Giro d'Italia.

The seven new signings for 2008 include Bennati, Franzoi, Valerio Agnoli, Claudio Corioni, Ivan Santaromita, Alberto Curtolo and Maciej Bodnar.

Liquigas' Dal Lago underlined that "at the start of a sporting season I ask for commitment and passion but every year the team amazes me with great results. Our successes come from a great team work, where each member does his best: managers, athletes, technicians, doctors, masseurs and mechanics, who I thank for their diligence."

Thirty-eight victories were obtained by fifteen different riders among the thirty athletes featuring the team, including Filippo Pozzato's Tour de France stage win in Autun. Its most notable success, the Giro d'Italia, came via a rider who is now leaving the ranks. A contract renewal was looking unlikely given his asking price following the Grand Tour win, but the matter then became even more complicated when the verdict was handed down regarding the Oil for Drugs affair – a three-month suspension that ends January 16.

"I thank Danilo Di Luca very much for his unforgettable season with his wins in the Giro d'Italia and Ličge-Bastogne-Ličge," continued Dal Lago. "Our paths have divided, but we don't forget three years rich in satisfactions and emotions."

Team Manager Roberto Amadio will rely on the help of Paolo Dal Lago who, with doctor Roberto Corsetti, will attend to the athletic training of all the riders. Mario Chiesa, Dario Mariuzzo, Mario Scirea and Stefano Zanatta have been confirmed as directeur sportifs.

The 2008 Liquigas line-up will consist of returning riders Michael Albasini (Swi), Manuel Beltrán (Spa), Leonardo Bertagnolli (Ita), Kjell Carlström (Fin), Dario Cataldo (Ita), Francesco Chicchi (Ita), Mauro Da Dalto (Ita), Murilo Fischer (Bra), Roman Kreuziger (Cze), Aleksandr Kuschynski (Blr), Vladimir Miholjevic (Cro), Matej Mugerli (Slo), Vincenzo Nibali (Ita), Andrea Noč (Ita), Franco Pellizotti (Ita), Roberto Petito (Ita), Filippo Pozzato (Ita), Manuel Quinziato (Ita), Guido Trenti (Ita), Alessandro Vanotti (Ita), Charles Wegelius (GBr) and Frederik Willems (Bel), and new signings Valerio Agnoli (Ita), Daniele Bennati (Ita), Maciej Bodnar (Pol), Claudio Corioni (Ita), Alberto Curtolo (Ita), Enrico Franzoi (Ita), Ivan Santaromita (Ita).

Astana's money woes threaten team's future

By Susan Westemeyer

The 2007 Astana boys want their paychecks
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Team Astana's four Swiss riders still haven't had their salary from paid since September, nor have presumably their team-mates from other lands. Daniel Akhmetov, of the consortium sponsoring the team, did not transfer the approximately 2.4 million euro due on September 30, according to the Swiss newspaper Blick. The International Cycling Union (UCI) has indicated that the team's future license may be endangered.

Blick spoke with two of the Swiss riders. "It's worse for my younger colleagues, who earn less than I do," stated Gregory Rast. "It's time that we got some money," Michael Schär added.

The money was due to be transferred to Zeus, Marc Biver's firm, which ran the 2007 team. The team is sponsored by a consortium of eight large Kazakh firms, and according to Blick, is led by Kazakhstan Defence Minister and President of Kazakhstan Cycling Federation Akhmetov. The sponsors have a contract with Zeus to fund it with 12 million euro annually. However, the sponsor is breaking with Biver, and has hired Johan Bruyneel to take over the team in 2008.

Meanwhile, Biver must pay his 58 employees, which he could do if he could get hold of the 2.5 million euro bank guarantee held by the UCI. Fourteen Astana riders – but not the eight Kazakh riders – have asked the UCI to release the money.

"Our attorneys are working on it. I think that Astana has to fulfil all of its 2007 obligations if it wants to get a license for 2008," UCI ProTour manager Alain Rumpf explained. He said that Akhmetov must act. "As license holder he is obligated."

Biver was doubtful, though. "Akhmetov stopped the payments. He will continue to oppose the release of the bank guarantee."

Rund um Köln changes

By Susan Westemeyer

Rund um Köln will have a new finish line in 2008. The race, traditionally held on Easter Monday, will start as usual at the BayArena in Leverkusen, Germany, and go out into the countryside for some climbs, but when it returns to the city of Cologne, it will not finish on the banks of the Rhine river as it has for the last few years. The previous finish was near the headquarters of DEVK insurance company, the former main sponsor that has now withdrawn its support. The finish for next year's edition, to be held March 23, will be in downtown Cologne at a location to be determined, reported the

There had been preliminary plans to start the race in neighbouring Bonn if T-Mobile had become the race's new sponsor. However, the firm has not committed itself, and the race organisers cannot wait any longer to set the course.

Artur Tabat, the race manager, is still waiting for a new sponsor. "We are in negotiations with various firms, and hope for a decision soon," he commented. The race will take place no matter what, he promised. If there is no money for ProTour teams, then it will be held with Professional Continental or Continental teams.

Tour of Poland awarded

The Tour of Poland once again received the DEMES statuette at the annual Sport and Business Gala, held in Warsaw on November 8. It is the second year running that the ProTour event received an award at the Gala, which recognizes people and organisations for their contribution to sports marketing and to developing relations between business and sport in Poland.

Organizer Czeslaw Lang said that the Tour of Poland showed cycling in a positive light. "We showed the spectators who lined the roads and who watched it live on television that cycling is an emotional sport and that cyclists are phenomenal people," commented Lang. "Thanks to the promotion of cycling in this spirit, the Tour of Poland is watched by millions of people."

The Tour of Poland, which prides itself in the promotion of cycling and its sponsors in Eastern Europe, was elected "best brand" DEMES 2007. Among the other nominated brands in this category were Adidas, Eurosport, Lotto, Nike and Red Bull. The publicity campaign for the 64th Tour of Poland included more than 2000 radio spots, plus advertising films in 248 cinemas throughout the country.

During the Tour, stages were broadcast live in 10 languages to 41 countries. In Poland, some five million spectators watched the daily report on Polish television, and around 3000 articles appeared in the daily press. About two million spectators lined the roads to watch the race live.

This year the Tour of Poland, covering 1224 kilometres, was held from September 9 to 15, finishing just two weeks before the World Championships in Stuttgart. During the week before the Tour of Poland, 10,000 schoolchildren participate in a "mini" Tour of Poland, and a fun race was organized for the adults.

UCI Africa Tour conference and the inaugural World's View Challenge

The annual UCI Africa Tour Conference took place on November 9 after the time trial events of the African Continental Championships. International Cycling Union (UCI) President Pat McQuaid and CAC Vice-President Julius Mwangi opened the conference. In addition to the countries present for the Championships, delegates from the National Federations of Congo-Brazzaville and Lesotho attended the meeting.

Philippe Chevallier, Manager of the UCI's Road Department, represented his department and reported on the state of cycling affairs in the world, in particular in Africa. Of note was the positive development of the calendars, with a 30 percent increase in the number of events on the Continental Circuits since the introduction of the cycling reform. The UCI Africa Tour calendar now includes 17 events compared with four in 2005. The African continent will be represented by four countries (South Africa, Libya, Namibia and Algeria) at the Olympic Games in Beijing, three more than at the Olympic Games in Athens.

The next event on the calendar of the UCI Africa Tour will be the Tropicale Amissa Bongo which will take place from January 16 to 20.

World's View Challenge

A new international cycling event is heading to Pietermaritzburg – the inaugural World's View Challenge, South Africa's first UCI 1.1 event. The six-day race takes place from February 2 to 7 in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa and will have four UCI ProTour teams competing as well as seven additional international teams.

The five races (with a rest day in between races three and four) all start and finish in Alexander Park, but every day the parcours will differ.

The event is organised by Cape Town based Treble Group. Director Alec Lenferna, who spent two years in Switzerland working for the UCI, explained that "each of the races will see a professional race leading off the front of the field with a limited field of recreational riders also competing. The professional racing field will see a total of 15 international teams competing with four of these teams being UCI ProTour teams and the rest of the field being made up of UCI Continental Teams or National Teams."

Team Liquigas and Team Milram will be competing as part of their build up to the 2008 season.

Irish Star for Basslink Tasmanian Christmas Carnivals

The Sports Carnivals Association of Tasmania has been successful in contracting Irish Cycling champion Louise Moriaty for the Basslink Tasmanian Christmas Carnival Series. Moriaty, who comes from Dublin, is one of Ireland's top cyclists. She has competed on the international women's scene for several years and has been a member of various teams including the successful Global and Hibernian Racing Teams.

Race organizers believe that Moriaty will be particularly suited to the women's points race – part of the UCI International Sprint series. Her aggressiveness was noted in her recent win of the Queen of the Mountains in a major Irish women's road tour.

The signing brings to seven the number of countries that will be represented in the UCI Sprint Series.

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