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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for November 29, 2007

Edited by Hedwig Kröner, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

UCI regrets T-Mobile withdrawal

McQuaid confident Stapleton can succeed

By Shane Stokes

UCI president Pat McQuaid thinks that High Road Sports will find a new sponsor soon
Photo ©: Mark Johnson
(Click for larger image)

UCI president Pat McQuaid has given his reaction to Tuesday's news that T-Mobile is withdrawing as primary sponsor of the German ProTour cycling team. Speaking to Cyclingnews on Wednesday afternoon, the Irishman said that he expected Team High Road manger Bob Stapleton to be able to come up with a new backer.

"What has happened is a pity for cycling, particularly so in Germany," he stated. "However, we must recognise the investment they put into our sport over the past 19 years. It had to stop sometime.

"There is a positive side though in that the team continues. The team management under Bob Stapleton have been determined to change attitudes in relation to anti-doping and have led the way for over a year. They are ethically of the highest order and this should help Bob indeed find a replacement for T-Mobile."

McQuaid said that despite big efforts made by the American to clean up the team, the fallout of confessions from past riders had made things very difficult. "T-Mobile has been to the forefront in the fight against doping and has helped cycling through a very bad period. However, it was just impossible to shake off the demons of the past, particularly in Germany."

Only two riders remain from the 2005 lineup and with the new anti-doping program in place, there is very little in common between the current roster and the previous composition of the squad. Indeed, the T-Mobile name itself was the strongest link to the past team; the end of this association means that, ironically, Tuesday's news will enable the squad to finally have a fresh start and move forward.

It is understood that once the financial guarantees are in place, Stapleton and High Road Sports will be able to transfer the ProTour licence to the renamed team.

Television coverage and races affected by T-Mobile's pullout

The D-Tour will continue with the support of German TV
Photo ©: Elmar Krings
(Click for larger image)

Deutsche Telekom has cancelled its sponsorship of not only the T-Mobile Team, but also from other events, such as the Deutschland Tour and the Österreich Rundfahrt (Tour of Austria). However, both races have said that they will continue on, even with the loss of their main sponsor. In addition, the first German broadcaster ARD has said that it will carry the Tour de France and Deutschland Tour in 2008.

The ARD said that it saw no reason to cut back on its Tour coverage. "The existence of doping can't be the only thing on which we base our broadcast decisions," said ARD chairman Fritz Raff, who added that the broadcaster had a "duty as chronicler" to fulfil. He further noted that the Tour was an "outstanding event", and that the ARD had a contract to carry it.

The other German public broadcaster, ZDF, however, was not prepared to commit itself at this time. "We want more controls from the World Anti-Doping Agency WADA," chief editor Nikolaus Brender told dpa. "We want everything laid out clearly before the start of the Tour 2008. Then we will decide whether and how we will broadcast."

Both ARD and ZDF stopped their coverage of the Tour de France this summer after T-Mobile's Patrik Sinkewitz returned a positive doping control for testosterone.

Raff also said that the ARD would broadcast the Deutschland Tour again in 2008, "if it actually takes place." The Deutschland Tour organisers assured that the race would take place and greeted the ARD's news with thanks. "We see this decision as a reward for cycling's serious efforts to start the necessary cleaning process," said the race organisers. "But we also see the decision as an expression of personal trust in our efforts to consequently carry out the fight against doping.

"The departure of Deutsche Telekom AG as sponsor for the T-Mobile Team is too bad, but it does not threaten the existence of the Deutschland Tour," they continued. "We must now discuss with our partner T-Mobile how this will affect their contractual relationship with the Deutschland Tour."

With the pullout of Telekom, the Österreich Rundfahrt has lost one of its main backers, but organiser Ursula Riha said, "I am convinced that we will find a new sponsor." The 60th edition of the race "is not in any danger at this time! This withdrawal goes beyond the team and affects organisations like the Österreich Rundfahrt and the Deutschland Tour. But the worst thing to do would be to just give up."

Theo Bos: the Boss of track cycling

Theo Bos (Netherlands) celebrates his win
Photo ©: Mike Gladu
(Click for larger image)

There is one word synonymous with the name Theo Bos, and that word is speed. Bos, a three-time World Champion in the sprint owns the record for the flying lap, which he set in Moscow last year, but after his dream of Olympic gold was denied in 2004 by Australian Ryan Bayley, Bos is on track to get revenge in Beijing next year. Brian Crawford of Cycling NSW caught up with Bos as he was training in Sydney.

Dutchman Theo Bos received a gift from his parents. Clearly, his DNA is endowed with a secret code for unleashing a stunning turn of speed from a bicycle, and he's made good use out of that gift. The 24 year-old went far beyond his older brother Jan's two world championships in speed skating, but has yet to match Jan's two Olympic medals.

In 2004, Theo Bos was set to contend for Olympic gold in the sprint in Athens. After taking a somewhat controversial sprint world championship by defeating Ryan Bayley in the semi-finals, where Bayley protested a move by Bos to no avail, the pair had a rematch in Athens.

Forced to lead in the third and final race, Bos tried to open a gap with an early jump, but the move backfired and Bayley caught and passed the 21 year-old Bos to take the gold medal. Since then, Bos has led a life of single-minded devotion to his sport in preparation for Beijing. He's gone on to world titles in the kilometre time trial (2005), keirin (2006) and sprint (2006, 2007), as well as numerous World Cup titles and European championships.

Yet, every time Bos and Bayley meet on the boards, it's hard not to think about that day in August and read a rivalry into the race. "I think it's because of the Olympics (2004), and every time we race together it's a more loaded race than other races especially for the crown," explained Bos. "But I just try to focus on myself and during these races and try to improve myself and not to look so much to other races."

To read the full feature on Theo Bos, click here.

Klöden also waiting for back pay

Andreas Klöden
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Andreas Klöden has joined the chorus of Team Astana riders who is looking for his back pay. "I haven't received any money since August," he told German sports tabloid Sportbild. "If nothing happens by Christmas, we will go to the UCI. Astana has paid a bank guarantee there, out of which we can be paid. That money is due to us. We have fulfilled our contracts and showed very good results. We can't be held responsible for the mistakes of others."

Various riders from the 2007 Astana team have claimed that they have not been paid their salaries for the last few months. Meanwhile, incoming General Manager Johan Bruyneel has told Cyclingnews that he is working with the sponsors and the UCI to correct the situation.

In Astana colours next season?

Nevertheless, the 2008 Astana roster has yet to be made official, and the name of the 2006 Tour de France runner-up still has to appear on the list of riders that must be sent to the UCI by December 15. At the moment, the team has too many riders with a valid contract coming from the 2007 management of the Astana team. Klöden said that he assumed he will ride for the team again in 2008. "Why not? I have a valid contract," he said. "Bruyneel spoke with me in the beginning of November and is interested in me." Thinking of the team strategy for the next Tour de France, where he would then work for Astana's leader Alberto Contador, Klöden added, "We know that it is better at the Tour de France to have a variety of possibilities. That makes a team more difficult to figure out."

Speaking of various former teammates, he said that he stayed in touch with Jan Ullrich. "We are friends," he explained. "Jan is underway a lot right now, but when we are both home, then we get together regularly." He didn't have that same contact with Alexander Vinokourov. "I have heard that he lives with his family in Kazakhstan again and wants to open a big training center in Astana," he added.

With his former sponsor Deutsche Telekom pulling out of the sport with immediate effect - another blow for German cycling after an already restless season, Klöden said that at the moment, "things look sad for cycling. But we must pull ourselves together to bring in positive headlines for our sport. We must put an end to its destruction."

Maastricht Six Day cancelled

The Six Day race of Maastricht returned to life last year after a 19 years' absence from the track racing scene, and it is now disappearing again. The organisers have announced that this year's meet, scheduled for December 17 to 22, has been cancelled.

The organisers were not able to get the race budget together, spokesman Danny Nellisen told the belga news agency. Last year's event drew only 9000 visitors and did not offer a top field. Moreover, Foundation president Jan Hoen, who was the driving force behind the race, has been ill this year and was thus unable to secure the necessary funding.

Leukemans' B-sample to Barcelona

Björn Leukemans has arranged with the WADA anti-doping lab in Barcelona, Spain, to test his B-sample. The A-sample of the Predictor-Lotto rider was found positive for testosterone before the World Championships, it was announced earlier this month.

Leukemans' attorney, Johnny Maelschalck, arranged to have the test made at the Spanish lab within the three week deadline after the A-sample, reported Sportwereld It was not immediately clear when the test would take place.

Dutch looking out for Tour start

The Dutch mayors of the towns of Rotterdam and Utrecht have received Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme this week in their bid to host a Grand Départ of the Tour sometime in the future. Prudhomme arrived in the Netherlands on Tuesday, first visiting one of the biggest harbour cities in Europe, Rotterdam, and then travelled back to the small university town of Utrecht.

Both cities showed the Tour de France director possible locations for a prologue course of the Grand Tour, which could start in the Netherlands in 2010 or 2011 at the soonest (next year will see the Tour depart from Brest, and 2009 from Monaco). Although nothing was yet finalised, the Dutch lobbyists hope that their candidacy will be honoured soon. "We haven't heard anything concrete yet," said Hans den Oudendammer, director of Rotterdam Topsport to Dutch media. "That we should be patient. Lats July, we spoke to London mayor Ken Livingstone at the Tour start. He only had this advice, too: be patient."

UK Circuit Race Champs return to Beverley

British Cycling has chosen Beverley, East Yorkshire, to host the 2008 National Elite Circuit Race Championships. The announcement comes less than five months since the 2007 National Road Cycling Championships in the town were cancelled because of flooding.

The event will take place around the medieval town centre on the evening of Friday, August 1, 2008. On Sunday, August 3, the East Yorkshire Classic road race, one of twelve events in British Cycling’s Premier Calendar, will take 120 racers around the Yorkshire Wolds before the traditional finishing circuit in Molescroft.

In 2006, Beverley was the start and finish point for the men’s and women’s national road racing championships. The events were due to be held again in the summer of 2007 but were called off because of the widespread flooding in the East Riding, much of which affected the road race course.

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