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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for November 22, 2007

Edited by Hedwig Kröner, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

Leukemans claims "naturally high testosterone"

Björn Leukemans has continued to protest his innocence and denied having used testosterone, saying that he has naturally high testosterone values. Team Predictor-Lotto announced yesterday evening that it had suspended the 30 year-old after learning of the positive doping test.

"I had the same problem in the year 2001," he told HLN. "It seems that the values between testosterone and epitestosterone are too high in my body. That was the case then as it is now. In 2001, I underwent a special test for this at a lab in Cologne, Germany. I was then cleared of all charges."

The problem cropped up again last year, but Leukemans could free himself of all charges again. "In 2006 I heard the same thing at a control by the Vlaamse Gemeenschap [Flemish Community, which also conducted the test this year – ed.]. I forwarded the Cologne lab report and everything was immediately dismissed. And for the World Championships of 2007 I was facing exactly the same problem. I did the same thing as usual, that is, I sent them the medical file from Cologne, but suddenly that doesn't seem to be sufficient anymore.

"According to the last test, I would have used a prohibited gel. However, I deny that most definitely," he stated, noting that, "I knew that there would be a control before the Worlds. Why would I be so dumb as to use testosterone, knowing that? Besides, the scientists say this product does not make you go any faster. You don't run a red light when the policeman is standing right there. I'm not that dumb!"

Leukemans is determined to do all he can to clear his name. "I will now try to prove it with my B-sample. I can let that be checked in Cologne, France and Barcelona. I will send it to the lab in Spain. I absolutely want my rights. I will hire a lawyer and take a doctor and a biologist to control the test."

Jane Tomlinson: The indomitable spirit of an iron lady

Jane Tomlinson
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The recent passing of Jane Tomlinson brought to an end a remarkable fight against terminal cancer, but her memory, her achievements and her fund live on. She used her final years to raise almost £2 (€2.8) million for charity, with three very considerable cycling feats being part of that fundraising. One of those who accompanied her on her Ride Across America spoke to Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes about her incredible story.

Upon hearing the diagnosis of a terminal disease, most people would understandably crumble with the news. This wasn't the case for Jane Tomlinson, who was told in 2000 that she had an estimated six months to live. The then-36 year-old Leedswoman surprised her family when she took out a gym membership shortly afterwards, and then defied all expectations when she survived a further seven years.

During that time she embarked on a number of incredible challenges, using these both as a means to live life to the fullest and also to raise money for cancer charities. The Jane's Appeal organisation was set up and, to date, has raised £1.85 (€2.59) million.

Tomlinson's campaign began in 2001 with Cancer Research UK's Race for Life in Leeds and the 10-kilometre Abbey Dash. After several other big challenges (see sidebar), she took up endurance cycling and undertook the John O'Groats to Land's End ride in the spring of 2003. Starting in the northernmost tip of Scotland and dropping down to what is the extreme south-westward point of Great Britain in Cornwall, the ride traverses the whole of the island of Great Britain and is, taking the route followed by Tomlinson, over 1000 miles [1609 kilometres] in length.

Although she was undergoing chemotherapy at the time, she and her co-pilot, brother Luke Goward, successfully completed the trip. Then after more running events, including her second and third London Marathons, she and her brother embarked on their second major cycling challenge in May 2004. The Rome to Home ride took them 2500 miles [4023 kilometres] from the Italian capital to Leeds, passing over Mont Ventoux and many other daunting climbs along the way. It was tough, but worth it; the tandem bike ride saw her raise more than £232,000 (€324,000) in six weeks.

Later that year she did the Salford and London Triathlons, plus a second Gatorade Half-Ironman UK Triathlon. She met Ryan Bowd at two of these events as he was working in a PR capacity in Salford and at the half-Ironman. Impressed by her determination, he told her that she should consider something even bigger. To his surprise, she took him up on that.

"At the time I said to her in a half-serious, half-joking tone, 'now that you have done this, you should do a full Ironman. And if you do decide to do that, I would be happy to help,'" he told Cyclingnews recently. "About six months later I got a call from [her husband] Mike saying, 'we will take you up on that offer.' We became friends from there."

To read the full feature on Jane Tomlinson, click here.

Page and Sunweb make up differences

Jonathan Page
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
(Click for larger image)

The Belgian cyclo-cross team Sunweb-Pro Job and its American rider Jonathan Page have agreed to settle their differences, and to shorten his contract for one year.

The 'war of words' came to an end last weekend when Page called in sick only a few hours before a race Saturday. Page didn't appreciate the fact that the team sent a doctor to his house to check him out, and soon enough, accusations of mistrust and bad feelings flew from both sides.

In a statement on its website, the team said that it had accepted Page's apology for his comments in the press. "Both parties regret that the team and its sponsors have suffered damage because of the rider's statements. Both parties have agreed to terminate the existing contract as of February 28, 2008; at that time a possible further cooperation will be further studied." Page's contract was originally to run through 2009.

Team manager Jurgen Mettepenningen hoped "that Jonathan Page will concentrate fully on his riding for the coming three months and will constructively cooperate with the team for the benefit of Sunweb-Pro Job," the statement continued. Neither side would issue any additional comment. "The main thing is to focus on the team's sporting performance so that Sunweb-Pro Job can take its place at the head of the group."

Haselbacher relaxed about missing salary

Austrian rider Rene Haselbacher hasn't been paid since September, but the Astana rider remains relaxed about it, expressing his confidence in the Kazakh sponsor who is currently in disagreement with the managing company of the team directed by Marc Biver. "The money has been promised to us, and I assume that we will get it," said Haselbacher, who is currently in Cape Town, South Africa.

"And besides, the UCI hasn't even stepped in," he continued. "Every ProTour team has to transfer money to the UCI to cover such things. So-called deposits, which can be paid to the riders in case of payment difficulties. So far the UCI hasn't done anything to send us this money."

Haselbacher is looking forward to the coming season on the team, and is sure "that the problem will be taken care of shortly." He is not worried about the missing money (even though "it's not peanuts"), saying "I will only get nervous about it if I have to ask the [Kazakhstan] prime minister for my money at the team presentation in Astana."

Belgian crossers threaten with boycott

The Fidea riders before last Sunday's Superprestige in Asper-Gavere
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
(Click for larger image)

Belgian cyclo-cross riders are currently opposing the Belgian cycling federation (Belgische Wielerbond, BWB) on the prize money offered to them at the national championships, this season scheduled to take place on January 6 in Hofstade. Noting the success the muddy discipline has in Europe, they demand a raise of the financial appeal that goes with winning the title.

"We won't tolerate any longer that the prize money is only € 5,000, while in the last five years the organisers of the Championships have each been funded with more than € 100,000 through the Belgian cycling federation," Hans van Kasteren, the Dutch manager of the Belgian Fidea team, told Sportwereld. "If the federation doesn't give us reason, actions will follow. We will start [the championship - ed.], but we'll then collectively abandon. We have proposed that we either get the television rights of the championships, or an increase of the prize money. We don't want any start money, though."

In this discord, the Belgian federation seems to be as hard-headed as the representative of the riders. "The prize money stays the same," replied Tom Van Damme, head of the BWB. "It was raised last year from the level of a national 'cross to the one of an international competition of first category. The teams get a certain amount of VIP entry and lunch tickets. It's true that cyclo-cross is very successful, but if it drops in popularity at one point we won't turn to knock on Van Kasteren's door, either."

BWB chairman Laurent De Backer put it even more bluntly, saying, "If they boycott the national championships, it's simple: then they won't go to the Worlds, either. End of story."

Another season for Rubiera

Instead of becoming a directeur sportif at the new Astana team managed by Johan Bruyneel, José Luis 'Chechu' Rubiera preferred to add yet another season as a professional bike rider to his already long career, according to Spanish website LNE. The 34 year-old reportedly turned down an offer to become one of the squad's new directors before he was proposed a contract as a rider, which he accepted last week.

Rubiera, who will be racing his 14th season as a pro in 2008, got the OK from the team management to continue on the bike after it was clear that Paolo Savoldelli would change teams to Italian LPR . Even though the Spaniard has always liked teaching and taking care of younger riders like Samuel Sánchez, Carlos Barredo or Daniel Navarro, the job of a directeur sportif seemed a little too stressful to him as it requires also putting pressure on the riders. What's more, Rubiera did not want to end his career through the back door - he wanted a proper farewell and to fulfil his dream of racing through his 35th year.

Courtesy of Antonio J. Salmerón

Evans in Sydney's 'Tour de Cadel'

Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto) waves the Australian flag on the Champs-Elysées
Photo ©:
(Click for larger image)

2007 Tour de France runner-up and 2008 ProTour champion Cadel Evans will head to Sydney at the end of this month to celebrate his year of success with the 'Tour de Cadel' and a visit to the Track World Cup.

On the morning of Sunday, December 2, Evans will lead hundreds of cyclists on the 'ultimate bunch ride' from North Sydney, across the Sydney Harbour Bridge and into Centennial Park. "I am still amazed at how many people have been congratulating me and who cheered me on from in front of their televisions back here in Australia during the Tour de France," said Evans, who has just returned from a short holiday and will soon be back in training to prepare for his assault on the 2008 Tour de France. "I'm really looking forward to catching up with the Sydney bunch and swapping stories."

All of the entry fees for the 'Tour de Cadel' will be donated to the David Peachey Foundation that assists indigenous children from rural and remote areas to pursue their sporting dreams and to provide them with support for their continuing education and development. "The David Peachey Foundation can make a real difference in the lives of these kids, and I want to help the Foundation achieve that," said Evans, who was born in the Northern Territory and spent his early years in an outback Australian settlement.

On Saturday, December 1, the night before the 'Tour de Cadel', the Australian and his Italian wife Chiara will host ten guests at the Sydney Track World Cup, where he will lend his support to the Australian riders vying for qualification points for the 2008 Olympic Games. Evans' guests will be the successful bidders in an eBay online auction also in support of the David Peachey Foundation. The auction gives ten fans the chance to enjoy an evening with Evans and witness the most gifted track cyclists in action at Dunc Gray Velodrome. At the Track World Cup, Evans will also put a group of National Rugby League (NRL) players, including David Peachey, through paces of a very different kind when they contest a 250m scooter race.

"The good news is Cadel's not making us ride up the French Alps and it's all good fun for a good cause," said Peachey of the novelty event scheduled during a break in World Cup racing action. "But that doesn't mean we all won't be trying to win because bragging rights will be on the line. I'm not sure what the real cyclists will make of us but I'm really looking forward to watching them in action."

More information about the 'Tour de Cadel' can be found on Cycling Australia's website.

New business manager for CSC

Team CSC has a new Managing Director, it announced this week. Trey Greenwood will take over the business management duties for the team.

"With Trey in charge we'll be able to unify and streamline our focus on different areas of business in the right way. We have high ambitions regarding development of our sponsor relations, events, merchandise, travel and all the other opportunities the company comes across and this is a very important step in the right direction," said Bjarne Riis on the new man on the team.

Greenwood, 40, is the former managing director of the fitness studio center SATS and previously worked for Radisson SAS.

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