First Edition Cycling News for November 21, 2007
Edited by Greg Johnson
Danilo Di Luca confirmed at LPR
2007 Giro champion joins Savoldelli with Spezialetti
By Gregor Brown
Danilo Di Luca confirmed he will ride for Team LPR in 2008, with the Italian signing off on the deal at the team's headquarters in Rottofreno (Piacenza), Italy on Tuesday. The winner of the 2007 Giro d'Italia joins the squad's recent signing Paolo Savoldelli, who has also won the Italian Grand Tour, under the guidance of Team Manager Fabio Bordonali.
The Professional Continental team is set to become the Giro's formation of force. Savoldelli, winner of the 2002 and 2005 Giro, will likely be the super domestique to defending champion Di Luca. In addition, Alessandro Spezialetti will join the 31 year-old from Abruzzo in making the switch from ProTour team Liquigas to LPR.
It's yet to be seen whether Bordonali will sign up Savoldelli's right-hand man Eddy Mazzoleni, who finished third in the 2007 Giro, but soon after cancelled his contract with Astana. The Bergamasco duo put Di Luca under a tremendous amount of pressure in this year's Corsa Rosa thanks to 'Il Falco's' daredevil descents and Mazzoleni's pure-bread muscle.
"I am very content to have come to this agreement and I am also happy to work along side a team-mate like Paolo Savoldelli," Di Luca said on Tuesday, while confirming earlier rumours. "My objects are the Classics at the beginning of the season and the Giro d'Italia, if the invite arrives."
The team should be given strong consideration as a wildcard from the Giro's organiser, RCS Sport, but may have a harder time getting an invite to the Ardennes Classics that Di Luca has dominated in the past, including this year's win in the Ličge-Bastogne-Ličge.
"I have known Bordonali for years, we have already worked together in 2001, then for various reasons our paths diverted," added the rider. Bordonali, the ex-leader of 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.
Di Luca's three-month suspension related to the Oil for Drugs affair ends on January 16, and will not cause any problems in fulfilling his contract with LPR.
"We are very happy to have in our team two champions like Savoldelli and Di Luca," confirmed Alberto Arici, co-owner of LPR with brother Stefano and his dad, Luciano. "We cannot wait to see them in action on all of the streets of Europe, and perhaps the Giro d'Italia."
Gent Six Day pays tribute to Gálvez
By Brecht Decaluwé in Gent
In a serene atmosphere, the Gent Six Day paid tribute to Isaac Gálvez Lopez by unveiling a memorial plaque at the entrance of the race track building 't Kuipke'. A small group of organizers and riders united for a moment of reflection at the unveiling before the big event got under to pay tribute to the late Spanish champion.
Among the group of people paying tribute were race organizers Patrick Sercu and Rob Discart, representatives from the City of Gent and all professional riders who are competing in this year's Gent Six Day, which commenced last night. Gálvez's long-time track racing partner Juan Llaneras Rossello and Isaac's widow Davinia weren't present at the ceremony.
Discart made a short speech in which he talked about the tragic circumstances of the accident which claimed the rider's life and expressed his hope that Gálvez would not be forgotten. Rider Bruno Risi uncovered the plaque and local rider Iljo Keisse laid down flowers on behalf of the professional riders.
Many of the riders present were brought to tears during the ceremony, including Dimitri DeFauw, who was involved in the crash at last year's event. During the final Madison of the fifth night at last year's race, the Spaniard collided with DeFauw and flew into a railing, falling immediately unconscious. Medical personnel resuscitated Gálvez at the track, but he died en route to the hospital.
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Images by Luc Claessen/www.ctm-images.com
Mayo's B sample to get B test
By Monika Prell
The counter analysis of Iban Mayo's B sample will be carried out today in the French Châtenay-Malabry laboratory, regardless of whether the Saunier-Duval Prodir rider or a representative is present, according to todociclismo.com. The French laboratory received world wide attention after its practices were scrutinised during an American arbitration hearing over the positive test returned by Floyd Landis, who won the 2006 Tour de France before being striped of the title following the hearing.
Mayo tested positive for EPO on the second rest day of this year's Tour, with the A sample also analysed in the French laboratory. The B sample was sent to the University of Gent, in Belgium, as Châtenay-Malabry closed its doors for holidays, but the B sample analysis gave a negative result. An analysis completed in Sydney also found the samples to be negative, which prompted the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) to declared Mayo innocent.
RFEC requested that the case be closed, however the sport's international governing body, the UCI, didn't trust the Belgian analysis, which has lead to today's the counter analysis in France. Mayo has reportedly objected to the counter analysis and has sent various letters of protest to the UCI.
The UCI's anti-doping chief Anne Gripper has said the counter analysis will go ahead today, even if neither the rider nor any of his representatives will be present.
Conquering California's Stage 3
Following the announcement of the 2008 Tour of California's route last week, Cheerwine professional and area local Sarah Bamberger couldn't wait to check out the new course for Stage 3 to discover what challenges the professional men will face next February.
Tour of California organiser Medalist Sports has sharpened the stage three route profile for 2008, with the revised 152.2 kilometre stage from Modesto to San Jose to feature aromatic farmlands, steep pitches in a desolate canyon, the climb up Mt. Hamilton's infamous backside and an arduous, 20-mile descent.
Then the race goes up Sierra Road, which will further punctuate the difference between the event's contenders. For the King of the Mountain's classification this stage will present at least two opportunities for points, but not until the latter half of the stage. This first 'real' climbing stage of the 2008 event will offer the initial glimpse of which general classification riders are actually on track for the early season Hors Catégorie Stage Race.
Small town start to a big stage
Although stage three ends with the familiar Sierra Road climb and finish line approach in San Jose, the remainder of the stage is entirely new. Modesto hosts the start of the day and the preparations are already in effect. I know how exciting it is to race in a huge city that makes you feel important – San Francisco, Philadelphia, Minneapolis – but when a massive event like California comes to a relatively small town, the impact is even greater on the community. As racers you can't really get a better shot at feeling larger than life.
Modesto is a central valley farming community that has been revamped in recent years to showcase the contributions of some of its people. Star Wars director George Lucas was born here and immortalized the town with another of his films American Graffiti. E. & J.Gallo Winery is headquartered here and the race starts adjacent the brand new Gallo Center for the Performing Arts. Modesto still has an old fashion drive in – the A&W Restaurant on G Street – which is especially important for the foreign riders to visit, as it still employs carhops on roller skates to deliver the burgers and shakes.
To read the full feature, click here.
Heras looks seriously at retirement
Three time Vuelta a Espańa winner Roberto Heras has continued to hint at not returning to professional cycling, having now completed his doping ban, following a lack of suitable offers. The Spaniard was sidelined for two years in October 2005 when he tested positive for EPO while en route to claiming a record fourth win at his home Grand Tour.
The former Liberty Seguros rider is believed to have five different offers on the table for 2008, but says he won't return to the sport if he doesn't receive an offer with conditions he needs.
"It is true that I have had offers, five in total, but none met the conditions that I need to return to cycling," he told Catalan sports daily Mundo Deportivo. "If by the end of the year things do not change, I will opt to retire."
"Money has never been a priority, to race again I wanted several conditions, especially regarding the structure of the team and the calendar," he added. "These conditions were not met by the five teams that have approached me."
Pendleton, Reade claim sportswomen awards
Great Britain Cycling Team stars Victoria Pendleton and Shanze Reade have won the Sportswoman of the Year and the Young Sportswoman of the Year awards respectively at yesterday's Sunday Times 2007 Sportswomen of the Year Awards, held at Lord's Cricket Ground in London, England.
Pendleton was honoured with the British award after her triple world championship winning efforts at the Mallorca track world championships. Reade also played a staring role in Great Britain's massive efforts at the track worlds, with the BMX rider claiming team sprint gold with Pendleton.
"Following a terrific season, Victoria was chosen by the judges over the other finalists for the Sportswoman of the Year Award, Katherine Grainger who stroked the GB women's quadruple sculls to world championship glory and Christine Ohuruogu, the winner of the 400m at the World Athletics Championships," the Sunday Times said in a statement.
In addition to the team sprint medal, Pendleton won Gold in the Sprint and the Kerin at the same championships, while Reade claimed Gold in the Senior Women's category at the World BMX Championships.
Botero signs with Rock & Republic
By Antonio J. Salmerón
Santiago Botero will join the ranks of American National Racing Calendar squad Rock & Republic Racing in 2008, the Colombian's coach Raúl Mesa has told press.
The news means the Colombian National Time Trial Champion will leave the UNE Orbitel team, where he raced this season having spent the previous year at the now defunct Phonak squad. The team is hoping to be invited to contest the Tour of California and the Tour of Georgia next season after persuading Botero, who originally wanted to race in his homeland, to ride with the North American squad.
"The Colombian races lost an extraordinary rider, but the Colombian cycling will continue getting better outside here with Santiago Botero," Mesa commented on the subject.
The Vuelta a Colombia winner will join countrymen Victor Hugo Peńa and César Grajales. The 35 year-old rider plans to finish his professional career in the Beijing Olympic Games for 2008.
Joker Bianchi 2008 launched
European Continental team Maxbo Bianchi will run under the Joker Bianchi name in 2008 following the signing of a new title sponsorship agreement, the Norwegian squad has announced. The Norway supermarket chain's arrival is marked to provide a big boost to the squad, which has become a breeding ground for future ProTour stars in recent years, with the new sponsor believed to be interested helping the squad expand post 2008.
"There are no plans for lifting the team up to the Pro Continental level at present moment," the team statement noted. "However, our new sponsor, Joker, has signaled that this discussion could be of interest in the future. There is no doubt that Scandinavia is in need of a Pro Continental team, and this may be a reality in one or two seasons."
The outfit, whose 2007 stars Edvald Boasson Hagen and Gabriel Rasch are heading to T-Mobile and Credit Agricole respectively next season, has signed some new talents for nest season, including European Junior Road Championship podium finisher Ole Haavardsholm. Ingar Stokstad will also ride for the re-named outfit in 2008, after taking podium positions in the junior road World Cup rounds during this season.
The pair are the biggest talents Norwegian cycling has seen for a long time, according to team sport director Gino Van Oudenhove. "Their skills and power is close to what we have seen in Edvald," he said.
Joker Bianchi 2008 roster: Lars Petter Nordhaug, Alexander Kristoff,
Sten Stenersen, Joachim Břhler, Frederik Wilmann, Stian Sommerseth, Ole
Haavardsholm, Ingar Stokstad
Skil-Shimano's Asian roster complete
The Skil-Shimano pro cycling team has completed its Asian line-up for the coming season. The 2008 edition of the team roster includes four new signings, three from Japan – Yoshinori Iino, Shinri Suzuki and Yusuke Hatanaka – and one from China – Ji Jianhua. The quartet replaces Kaoru Ouchi, Masamichi Yamamoto, Takamitu Tsuji, Masahiro Shinagawa and Fang Xu at the squad.
The squad had already announced the arrival of Fumiyuki Beppu from Discovery Channel at the team. Beppu will ride a European program, as will his fellow countrymen Hatanaka, Iino, Yoshimasa Hirose and Yukihiro Doi and Chinese riders Jianhua, Jin Long and Ji Cheng.
One of the main goals of Skil-Shimano's Asian contingent in 2008 is participation in the Beijing Olympic Games.
Germans to race in New Zealand
This year's Armstrong Peugeot Festival of Cycling in New Zealand's Christchurch has received a boost with the announcement German women Britta Martin and Janosch Wintermantel will contest this year's event. Martin is currently training in New Zealand with the Peak Fuel squad, but during the year she races professionally on the European scene for Team Stuttgart. The 19-year-old Wintermantel is tipped as one of Germany's up and coming riders and races professionally for the Under-23 squad Team Bergstrasse.
Both Martin and Wintermantel will race in both the Avanti Long Bays Classic on December 1 and the Armstrong Peugeot City Criterium on December 2. They will face a strong Kiwi field, which so far includes former world junior champion Jeremy Yates and recent Oceania Games medallists Joseph Cooper and Reon Park (Timaru) and New Zealand's professional women's team Jazz Apple, which race in America's NRC series during the 2007 season.
Some 1500 riders from New Zealand, United States of America, United Kingdom, Japan, Australia and Germany are expected to compete in this year's festival. The festival's previous winners include world champions Greg Henderson and Katie MacTier, Commonwealth medalist Hayden Roulston and women's Tour de France champion Linda Villumsen.
For more details visit www.festivalofcycling.co.nz
New Zealand's Faulkner wins Paris-Dakar race
New Zealand's John Faulkner has won the second Paris-Dakar cycling race, after riding some 7,214 kilometres from Paris, France over a 10 week period to be the first rider to arrive at the finish in Dakar, Senegal. Faulkner took victory from a group of 30 cyclists that set out on the adventurous race, which includes a crossing of the Sahara desert, that commenced on September 9.
The Kiwi rider beat Dutchman Bob Martens and Christian Billet from France, while the Netherlands' Mieke Arendsen was the first of the female finishers to reach Dakar suburb Lac Rose.
The race/expedition, which is modeled on the famed Paris-Dakar (now Lisbon-Dakar) car and motorbike rally operated by Tour de France organizer ASO, crosses the Pyrenees, the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara desert. Riders were exposed to high temperatures, huge mountains and desert storms along the road.
France's Billet had an excellent start in his home country and took solo the lead during the second stage. The 18 year-old Martens was the fastest in the European hills and mountains and was at the top of the ranking for more than five weeks. Faulkner from New Zealand was never far behind and took the lead in Marrakech after a physical breakdown of Martens. However it was only for short, Martens recovered and stroke back. Finally Faulkner proved to be the strongest endurance athlete in the Western Sahara and Mauritania, mentally as well as physically, taking the lead and keeping it until the finish in Dakar.
Not all riders contesting the event race, with some preferring to roll in small groups along the route. This year's event included riders ranging in the age from 18 to 76 years.
The event won't take place in 2008, with organizers planning an epic new 11,000 kilometre cycling race/expedition in South America, called The Andes Trail. The Paris-Dakar will again take place in September-November 2009.
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Images by Wilbert Bonné
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2007)