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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for November 23, 2007

Edited by Paul Verkuylen

2009 Tour de France to start in Monaco

Boonen is a resident of Monaco
Photo ©: Cyclingnews.com
(Click for larger image)

After the phenomenal success of the start of the 2007 Tour de France in London, the organisers ASO announced on Thursday that the 2009 edition will start in Monaco.

The small principality that sits between France and Italy has never before hosted a stage of the race. The time trial stage will incorporate part of the famous Formula One track used each year as part of the Formula One Grand Prix series.

In the presence of His Serene Highness Prince Albert II an official presentation will take place at 2.00pm on Friday the 14th of December at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco.

The last time the race started on the Cote d'Azur was in Nice in 1981.

Racing delayed for a recovering Saul Raisin

By Gregor Brown

Saul Raisin (Credit Agricole)
Photo ©: Jonathan Devich
(Click for larger image)

Crédit Agricole announced Wednesday, November 21, that American rider Saul Raisin would not be racing in the immediate future. The 24 year-old rider from Georgia, USA, suffered a life-threatening crash in April 2006 during the Circuit de la Sarthe, and has since made tremendous progress in recovery. However, the team and its medical representative, Joël Menard, decided it would be best not to subject him to racing based on recent neuro-psychological exams.

"He had a very bad crash, but has made lots of progression," commented Crédit Agricole Team Manager Roger Legeay Thursday evening to Cyclingnews. "In July he indicated he wanted to return to racing, and in September he had good results at the US time trial championships. It [the individual time trial test - ed.] was good; I did not want him to ride in the bunch because it was too early."

The French ProTour team conducted tests with Raisin in Bordeaux, France, during October, and received the results this week. "We made the decision two days ago because we just got the results from the doctors from Bordeaux. We informed him, and his mother and father. What he will do, I don't know. He said, 'yes, I understand.'

"I had prepared him for a few months about this. He had known I did not know what I would decide. He understands; he knows it is for his safety. He said he is not angry, and he understands. I don't know what he will do."

Raisin was in a coma for over one week and paralysed on the left side of his body after his accident. He stayed in France until he was stable enough to be moved to Georgia, where he started down the road to recovery.

Legeay's concern for his young charge was clear through the tone of his voice and explanation of the past 18 months. Legeay said "He had very nice progression, but the progress is... We are in a very dangerous sport, not like tennis. You have issues of concentration, it is hard to explain all the issues, it is a very demanding sport. My first priority as a manager is the life; it is not results or the money. For me it is a big risk for him to ride in the bunch. It was my decision.

"I explained my decision to Saul and his parents. I said 'I want to be sure there is no risk of his safety,' and his parents agreed with me. After looking at the results with the doctors – neurologists and psychologists – from Bordeaux, we made a strong decision and take the responsibility."

Raisin has a contract that goes through 2008. "He has a contract without any problem; he is paid like a normal rider, even though he is not racing. The problem is not the money, but the risk."

Legeay did not think that Raisin would want to try to find another team that would allow him to race. "It is a big responsibility for any team," he confirmed, feeling that the Crédit Agricole team was doing the best for Raisin.

Cyclingnews was unable to reach Saul Raisin for comment. For more on Raisin, read Raisin's start mattered more than finish.

Belgians speak out on Leukemans case

By Susan Westemeyer

Björn Leukemans
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
(Click for larger image)

Björn Leukemans' positive doping test for testosterone has angered Belgian officials, leading one anti-doping authority to claim that, "if you test positive in Cologne, you have doped."

Frans Delbeke, the head of the Belgian anti-doping lab in Gent was not speaking specifically about the Leukemans case when he told Het Laatste Nieuws that the lab in Cologne "...has the most modern equipment to determine whether the testosterone is produced by the body or whether it is synthetic."

"Synthetic testosterone has different characteristics from natural testosterone. That way it can be determined whether someone has cheated." He further noted that, "For Cologne, a sample is only positive if it contains certain artificial testosterone."

Leukemans tested positive for testosterone in an out-of-competition doping control before the 2007 World Championship, but the 30-year-old denied having used an illegal product and claimed that he has naturally high testosterone.

Flemish sports minister Bert Anciaux also criticized the ProTour team, "It is not that the entire Predictor-Lotto team is under suspicion, but I do want to scold them," he told HLN. "The Leukemans test shows that our controls work. But why didn't the team discover this itself and avoid the problem? Where is their own internal control system? They must look into that."

"But again," he added, "it is perfectly possible that Leukemans was an isolated case. This news says nothing concerning the other riders on the team or the other riders of his generation."

Predictor-Lotto team manager Marc Sergeant called Anciaux's statements "an overreaction". Speaking to sport-planet.eu he said that the comments "were not nice. It would have been better if Anciaux had got in contact with us first rather than directly reacting. He might better have waited until the B-sample was tested."

"He speaks of the team," Sergeant added. "This is also not nice for the other riders. Other teams come into the headlines in a bad way four or five times, that is surely not the case with us."

Sevilla, Mancebo and Vicioso linked to Relax

By Antonio J. Salmerón

"We are finalizing negotiations with our sponsors [Relax, GAM, Fuenlabrada and Soldados.com], and that is the reason why our riders have not yet signed, but we think that it should be carried out in the following days", David Plaza assured Cyclingnews on Thursday evening.

The team's manager will count on Francisco Mancebo, Oscar Sevilla and Ángel Vicioso for the next season, "unless they have decided otherwise in the last few hours, because they are our main strongholds, in addition to our young promising climber Daniel Moreno".

The Relax-GAM will has already signed ex-Liberty Seguros rider Carlos Abellán as well as under 23 talents Raúl Santamarta and Andrés Santuria. They will join Jorge García, Oscar García and Raúl García, for the 2008 season according to Plaza.

"We are looking at signing one more rider such as Vallejo, but first we have to find out if we will have more than sixteen riders" he explained.

The Spanish Pro-continental squad will debut in 2008 at the Vuelta a Argentina, in January, "where Mancebo finished third in 2007". Their racing calendar centres around the Spanish racing calendar but will also include races on the Portuguese, French and South-American calendar. There main goal is to "return to race the Vuelta".

Het Volk comes home after 12 years

A massive crowed gathers at the start in Gent.
Photo ©: Stijn Vercamer
(Click for larger image)

For the first time since 1995 the opening classic of the year, Het Volk, which takes place in Belgium, will start and finish in Gent according to sportwereld.

The 63rd edition of the race, that will be held on the Saturday, March 1, has been dramatically altered from its current format. For 2008 the race will begin with a 70-kilometre flat section before the riders will face the first obstacles of the race. In just 40 kilometres riders will face five typical Flemish hills and one cobbled section. Riders will then face a flat section before the finale of the race starts. Five more hills and an equal number of cobbled sections in the last 55 kilometres will sort out the strong from the weak and should provide a worthy winner.

The 'oude Kruisberg' marks the beginning of the finale for the event and is followed by the 'Donderij' and 'de Hof ter Fiennestraat' cobbled sections. The Taaienberg, Eikenberg and the Wolvenberg are also included. The last climb, the 'Molenberg', comes with 39 kilometres remaining. In total there are 11 hills and 16 kilometres of cobbles.

"The finish line lies almost on the same spot as where the second stage of the Tour de France finished this year. It is ridden in the other direction and is slightly uphill," said Christophe Peeters, Gent's minister of sport.

"This race belongs here [in Gent]. We can now speak of Gent-Gent, even if the organisers would rather hear it called Het Volk. Traditions are there to uphold, so this race should start and finish in Gent," Peeters concluded.

CONI calls for Santuccione ban

The Italian Olympic Committee's (CONI) anti-doping prosecutor requested on Thursday that controversial doctor Carlo Santuccione be banned from associating with sportsmen for life according to AFP.

Italian police began investigating Santuccione in 2003 after intercepting his telephone calls in a scandal known in Italy as 'Oil for drug'.

Santuccione has been under investigation as part of the 'Oil for drugs' scandal after Italian police intercepted a telephone call in 2003. He is suspected to have supplied several high-profile Italian sports people with doping products.

CONI's anti-doping prosecutor said he would request that Santuccione "be banned for life" from sports federations or associated bodies or from attending events and venues destined for sportsmen in Italy.

Among those implicated in the 'Oil for drug' scandal were cyclist Danilo Di Luca, who is currently serving a three month ban for his involvement.

Moreni banned for two years

Following his failed doping test during this year's Tour de France, Italian cyclist Cristian Moreni has been banned for two years, the Italian Cycling Federation (FCI) announced Thursday.

The 35-year-old tested positive for testosterone during the 11th stage of the Tour, resulting in his entire Cofidis team withdrawing from the race.

Moreni, the 2004 Italian national champion, acknowledged his guilt after testing positive and did not request his B sample be tested.

Junior event announced as part of Launceston Classic

In a bid to secure the future of the sport of cycling in Tasmania, the Tasmanian cycling federation and the Launceston Cycling Classic (LCC) announced this week that an event for junior riders will be included as part of the LCC.

Tasmania has produced a succession of top riders like Matt Goss (CSC) and Wez Sulzberger who recently placed second in the under 23 world championships. Yet despite the success of these riders, numbers have been dwindling in the younger ranks. The Federations aim with the inclusion of the event is to promote the sport among the younger generations and hopefully begin the development of the future stars of Tasmanian cycling.

Entries for the race will be accepted up to a week before the December 23rd race and are open to all comers with a current CA licence. The blue ribbon event will feature riders like Cadel Evans, Robbie McEwen (both Predictor Lotto), Stuart O'Grady as well as the local favourites, Goss and Sulzberger. The criterium carries a prize purse of $20,000, with the winner taking home $5,000.

Racing starts at 7.00pm with the curtain raiser U17 men and the main event of the evening starts at 7.30pm with a 60-kilometre race and is expected to be completed by 9.00.

As usual the post race activates are generally as hot as the races themselves.

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