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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for November 27, 2007

Edited by Gregor Brown

Contador targets Tour and Olympics

By Hedwig Kröner

Alberto Contador conquers the 2007 Tour de France
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

These last months have been quite busy for Alberto Contador, the youngest Spaniard ever to win the Tour de France. Jetting from one invitation to the next, the Discovery Channel rider has had very little time to unwind after his big victory last July. Still, coming home after the Amstel Curaçao race on the Caribbean island, he managed to schedule in an interview with Cyclingnews, and revealed that he not only intended to defend his title at the 2008 Tour de France, but also had an eye on the other big event next season: the Beijing Olympics.

Even though Contador's racing schedule is far from being set in stone at this point, one thing was already clear: "The whole of my programme will be made to target the Tour de France," the 25 year-old predictably said. "All the races that I will do prior to July will bring me up to that goal. So I could be doing Paris-Nice [a race which the 2007 winner of the event holds particularly dear, as it shaped his evolution as a rider - ed.] – after all, I am a rider and I love to race – but the only thing on my mind next year will be the Tour."

Nevertheless, Contador revealed that he was flirting with yet another important competition next year: the Beijing Olympics. "The Olympic road race is only 10 days after the Tour de France finishes," he said. "The parcours is very difficult, and I would love to go there. Even if I may not be the man for the victory – maybe I can help a team-mate to win. Or just be there... The Olympics take place only once every four years, so I really want to use the opportunity."

Look out for an extensive interview with Alberto Contador in the coming days on Cyclingnews.

Giampaolo Caruso lashes out at Italian legal process

December 6 date set for disciplinary action

"Is it so difficult to acquit an innocent person in cycling?" stated Giampaolo Caruso in an open letter sent out yesterday. The 27 year-old Italian faces a disciplinary hearing with the Italian cycling federation (FCI) on December 6.

The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) recommended a suspension of two years for Caruso (Lampre-Fondital) on June 3. He rode for Liberty Seguros and Astana in 2006 when he was linked with Operación Puerto and forced to stop riding. However, the Spanish federation authorized the winner of a 2003 Tour Down Under stage to return to racing. Last fall, he signed with Lampre, and rode for the team at this year's Giro d'Italia.

"I write from the heart because I think we have reached a point of total madness," he continued. "I feel the victim of a power struggle between CONI, the [Italian] federation and the UCI [International Cycling Union].

"I did not receive a salary for six months; I did not compete for five months, from when Fuentes' case was discovered I have raced only occasionally. Maybe because I am one of the 'non-famous' I am not able to have a voice and I am left in limbo. I find the situation crazy and absurd."

Caruso, although cleared by the Spanish federation, has fought with his own country's federation. "Now, the thing most dramatic is that in the meantime the rules of CONI-FCI anti-doping justice have undergone changes ... I requested timely action, and they respond or a lot of times they don't know what action to take – after 140 days from the date of deferment [July 4 - ed.] I am still waiting for justice.

"I think that no one really has the courage to acquit me given the madness it would create in Italy in regards to this question of doping. There is a huge fear to acquit an athlete because of the possible infighting it could create between CONI, the federation and appeals court, or any other institute."

Also on December 6, the FCI will hold a disciplinary hearing for Alessandro Kalc. CONI recommended a life sentence for 50 year-old, ex-mountain biker for his involvement in Operación Puerto. The Italian allegedly worked as a courier and a contact for the riders in Italy to communicate with Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes.

The next expatriate 'cross racer?

Cyclo-cross expert Ryan Trebon blasting New Jersey with double wins
Photo ©: Fj Hughes
(Click for larger image)

At the final day of this year's USA mountain bike national championships, there was a rumble echoing about the pits: 'Ryan Trebon is mad.' While his fellow racers may have been cracking jokes about his performance the day before (a DNF in the cross country race in which he was the defending champion), there was almost a foregone conclusion that the angered Trebon was going to win the short track race that day – And he did – Viciously. Jackson Weber spoke with the talented rider for Cyclingnews about his goals.

At 26 years old, Trebon is young, aggressive and does not even appear to have reached his complete potential. Perhaps fuelled by his scattered childhood in which he moved 15 times, Trebon is opinionated and passionate. When irritated or annoyed, he lets you know. "I try to control it, but sometimes I just lose it," explained Trebon in a moment of reflection. More importantly, he possesses a dogged determination to win everything in sight. "You gotta prove that you're the right person to be the national champion," stated Trebon with just a hint of emotion creeping into his voice.

Last 'cross season was "pretty good," according the rather humble Trebon. "I think I won like 80 percent of the races I did in the US and had my best European results too, with a 10th in a World Cup and ninth at a Super Prestige." Trebon won the mountain biking cross country national championship; he won the cyclo-cross national championship. For a guy who looks a bit like an emaciated scarecrow, he certainly acted like a steamroller when he was on two-wheels.

Read the full interview with Ryan Trebon.

Damsgaard and Bruyneel establish "Healthy Choice" for Astana

Seven weeks after the Kazakh Cycling Federation asked Johan Bruyneel to manage the Team Astana, the team has quickly taken shape. With nearly all of the 2008 staff and riders in place, the team has now given details on its anti-doping programme.

One of the first actions of Team Manager Bruyneel was to approach Dr. Rasmus Damsgaard, the creator of the trend-setting anti-doping system, successfully applied for the first time in 2007 by Team CSC.

Due to the dramatic events of 2007, drastic changes were needed for the Team Astana, and after a few short meetings between Bruyneel and Damsgaard both parties easily came to an agreement on the structure of an anti-doping. During the 2008 season, all Astana riders will follow and undergo the Astana "Healthy Choice" Programme of the Danish doctor.

"A zero tolerance is a minimum and we want to go even further," stated Bruyneel. "If we continue to tolerate actions like we have seen in the last few years we will only chase away sponsors from our sport.

"Dr. Damsgaard will have carte blanche while overseeing our riders during the 2008 season. and we are requiring that he performs random independent in-house doping controls. We realize that this will be a great cost to our Team – about 300,000 euro – but it's the only way to prove to the world that we run a clean team and that clean cycling really exists."

The most extensive and strict aspect of the programme is the out-of-competition testing, with more than 800 urine and blood analyses scheduled during the season. The tests will include standard urine and EPO samples as well as blood drawn for growth hormone and homologous blood transfusions testing. Additionally, each test will be analysed by a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)-accredited laboratory, which would allow for a positive test to be later challenged by the relevant anti-doping authority.

"It's the best and most honest way of working," explains Rasmus Damsgaard. "Like the out-of-competition controls performed by the UCI, our surprise controls will have the same consequences for the riders. ... We are glad that Johan Bruyneel gives us the freedom to do so."

"Every rider who has signed a contract with our team has agreed to follow our anti-doping programme. I cannot imagine what more we can do," stated Bruyneel. "I have told Dr. Damsgaard that he can start his work when our team will gather for the first training camp from December 10 to 17, in Javea [Spain]."

Legeay comments further on Raisin decision

By Shane Stokes

Crédit Agricole manager Roger Legeay has further explained his decision not to permit Saul Raisin to return to racing with the team, stating that he is very happy that the American rider has recovered his health following a near-fatal crash last season but that he considers the risk too great if he was to continue.

Last week, Legeay explained to Raisin that he would not be able to resume competing with the French team, contrary to the rider's hopes. He spoke to Cyclingnews on Monday to further explain his decision.

"It was a very difficult decision because when you are a team manager of a young rider like him, a rider who was very happy with his job, who was progressing and who had won a race, it is tough when you have hard news," he stated. "But Saul was in a very bad situation before. Now I am so happy that he is coming back as a normal guy with a normal life... that for me is more important. It is a big victory."

Raisin had a very bad crash on the opening stage of the Circuit de la Sarthe in April 2006. He fell heavily and hit his head and while he initially seemed to be out of danger, he suffered a haemorrhage and doctors were forced to induce a coma. He confounded expectations by not only regaining mobility, but also making a return to intensive training and, ultimately, riding the USA time trial championship this summer.

Legeay told Cyclingnews last week that Raisin's contract for 2008 would be honoured, in terms of payment. He has shown very strong support for the rider and visited him both in hospital in France and also when he was recovering back home in the USA.

"I do my best with the riders. It is the same with the health, it is same with the ethics... I do the best that I can do. I am very happy to support Saul and his family and I am so happy now he is coming back as a normal person. That in itself is a very, very big victory."

Fulgencio Sánchez says adios to federation presidency

José Griñán cued a replacement

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) President Fulgencio Sánchez will not run for re-election. The Spaniard cited difficulties with the International Cycling Union (UCI) since being elected in December 2004, and hopes his successor will have "better luck." José Griñán is viewed as a likely replacement.

During the General Assembly of the Spanish Cycling Federation, which took place last weekend in Madrid, Sánchez stated his concerns in the fight against doping. Regarding the difficulties that he has faced in dealing with the UCI, particularly the case of Alejandro Valverde, he added, "I hope that whoever replaces me will have better luck and not so many problems."

The general director of the RFEC, José Griñán, is a possible replacement for Sánchez. "I will announce my candidacy once I have some guarantees of success, of course,” he said to Cyclingnews.

Putin wants Tour of Russia

The Tour of Russia could become a reality if President Vladimir Putin has his way. The head of Russia has personally asked the International Cycling Union (UCI) President Pat McQuaid for a spot on the ProTour calendar as his country builds for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, according to The Guardian. The new race could find its place on the 2009 racing calendar, with a substantial prize list.

McQuaid, who has been subject to criticism in the last years for alienating the Grand Tours (Tour, Giro and Vuelta), noted that the project would be inline with the globalisation of the UCI ProTour, which could include a tour in China.

Egoi Martínez returns to Euskaltel

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Egoi Martínez will return to Euskaltel-Euskadi after two years with Discovery Channel. The 29 year-old Spaniard did not have a contract after the team managed by Johan Bruyneel found itself without a sponsor for 2008.

"Even if I have not had much time to assimilate, when I signed, it was very special for me. Really, I feel great because I have passed a lot of time with [the team]. There is a great atmosphere in Euskaltel-Euskadi, and that makes everything better," Martínez explained.

"I think that I have learned a lot of important things with Discovery Channel," he added of his 2006 and 2007 seasons with the USA-based team.

"I want to be strong in three-week races. I will have to do as well as possible. In addition, I will have to take my chances when they come, and we must be prepared. I will start my seventh season as a professional, so I will have to use my experience and the maturity gained up until now," he concluded.

Jakob Piil calls it quits

By Katharina Schulz

Former Danish champion and Tour de France stage winner Jakob Piil has decided to end his career. The 34 year-old from Odense has had a very unfortunate season, mostly due to an injury in his right knee. Despite a successful operation in July, the knee continued to give him trouble, so that he never really returned to racing top form. Therefore, T-Mobile did not renew his contract.

"You can say that this was one long fight. I would love to continue, if I felt that I was able to give my best. If I feel that I can't give it my all, I'd rather stop now and have a fresh start. I don't know yet exactly with what, I am still thinking about that," he said in a press release.

After his breakthrough year in 1999, Piil was signed by Memory Card-Jack & Jones, the team that later was to become Team CSC, and had some successful years in the 2000s. His biggest achievements was a Tour stage win in 2003, but he also won the Danish championship in 2001, the Peace Race, the Tour of Denmark, the Grand Prix d'Ouverture, and, last but not least, the 2002 Paris-Tours.

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