Latest Cycling News for October 9, 2007
Edited by Bjorn Haake
More troubles for Schumacher
By Susan Westemeyer
Stefan Schumacher may have finished third in the World Championships, but he has had nothing but problems since then. First it was announced that he had "irregular blood values" in two out-of-competition tests before the Worlds. Now he has been involved in a situation involving drunk driving, leaving the scene of an accident, and possibly drug consumption.
In the early hours of Monday morning, he left a disco in Stuttgart where he had been celebrating with friends. "Naturally alcohol was drunken," he said in a statement. "Other than alcohol, nothing was involved. After the party, I took a taxi, along with some friends, to Nürtingen," where his home is. "Since my girlfriend wasn't at home and I couldn't reach her on the phone, I got in my car to look for her at a friend's house, which is also in Nürtingen. Along the way, an accident happened, in which I damaged a garden fence. Under shock, I drove on for a few more minutes before I came to my senses and returned to the site of the accident. I am very sorry for this and [I am] glad that no one was injured."
The German tabloid BILD not only gave details, but went one step further, claiming that in addition to having 0.07% blood alcohol content, he also tested positive on a preliminary drug test, presumably one for "social" drugs, as compared to performance enhancing drugs. The legal limit to drive in Germany is 0.05%. The tabloid added that he had to give a blood sample and had to give up his driver's license. BILD quotes Schumacher as saying, "I cannot explain this positive drug test. I did not take any drugs, 100 percent."
"BILD apparently knows a lot more than we do," Schumacher's manager Heinz Betz told Cyclingnews. "It is true that he had an auto accident and that a garden fence was damaged. Alcohol was involved, and he did have both an alcohol and preliminary drug test, which are both standard under the circumstances. But we have not seen any results of these tests." Betz also stressed that "Only alcohol was involved. Stefan emphasizes that he did not take any drugs."
Hans-Michael Holczer, Schumacher's team manager at Team Gerolsteiner, told sport1.de, "I can't say anything about this. But anyone who knows me knows what I think about it."
Sastre heads to Italy
Carlos Sastre (Team CSC) will ride three races in Italy to prepare for the Giro di Lombardia, on October 20th. The Spaniard returns to competition this Thursday at the Coppa Sabatini, the first of three races before Lombardia closes out the season on Italian roads. Lombardia, the big classic that concludes the ProTour season, carries special interest for CSC and Bjarne Riis. CSC will race with the best team available. It will include the Russian Alexandr Kolobnev, fresh off a silver medal win at the Worlds, the Schleck brothers Andy and Fränk and Carlos Sastre.
After Sabatini, there are two more races planned as preparation, the Giro dell'Emilia on Saturday and the Gran Premio Beghelli, on Sunday. Then one more week of training and rest should see the CSC be strong for the final classic of the season.
Sastre revealed that "the only race I don't know is the Coppa Sabatini. The Giro dell'Emilia is especially tough, with its 226 kilometres. The last 120 kilometres is like a winding slide, where you don't stop to ascend and descend. And the Giro di Lombardia is very demanding and competitive. It's the last big opportunity to show off what the great riders and the teams have, our team included. We hope to win it," commented Sastre a day before traveling to Italy.
After a little active rest following the Vuelta a España Sastre retrieved his desire to compete. "I was resting at home and I was able to train on my preferred routes. It was especially important to decompress after the Vuelta and the Worlds. This was sufficient to tackle the next races with new energy."
Sastre will be taking his compatriot Joaquín Novoa under his wings, who will give his debut with the Danish team. The elite rider from Ávila, the same region where Sastre is from, was endorsed by the veteran rider from the northeastern part of the country. Sastre described Novoa as a "good rider and a good person. He's 24 years of age and has already achieved important things in the amateur ranks. I will be on his side so he can adapt to the team and the pro racing. I hope he can demonstrate to cycling that he belongs."
Simeoni signs for Ceramica Flaminia
Filippo Simeoni will continue in 2008 with the Italian team Ceramica Flaminia. Simeoni had various run-ins with seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong and was not racing most of this season after his unfortunate experience with the team Aurum Hotel and the threats he was facing in the peloton, according to the Italian.
Manager Roberto Marrone is enthusiastic about the new rider, declaring that "his potential is still there and he has an extraordinary personality." Simeoni signed a contract this morning with Ceramica Flaminia for the 2008 season. Many tifosi will be happy to see him return to the professional peloton. According to Marrone he is one of the better active riders.
Marrone stated that "His human and moral qualities will be a real benchmark for the team. We are very happy that Simeoni accepted our offer. We think that with him and the other riders we can fulfil our athletic goals as well as cultivate an important ambition. The athletic depth of Simeoni, who kept his physical condition in shape during the break from competitive cycling, makes him the leader to guide the youngsters on the team." The engagement of Simeoni by Ceramica Flaminia will strengthen the team's presence in central Italy and especially in Lazio.
Paris-Bourges ends 2007 Coupe de France
By Hedwig Kröner
The final round of the French Cup - Coupe de France - calendar will be held on Thursday this week with the 57th edition of Paris-Bourges. On top of the French riders aiming for the overall classification of the calendar, which started in February with the Tour du Haut-Var, the peloton will include many international big names such as time trial world champion Fabian Cancellara (Team CSC), Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole), Oscar Pereiro and Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne).
Current Coupe de France leader Sébastien Chavanel (Française des Jeux) will have a hard time holding off his adversaries Rémi Pauriol (Crédit Agricole) and Yann Huguet (Cofidis) on the challenging, 194.3-kilometres course, just north of the Massif Central, the central mountain range of France. The sprinter - not to be confused with his brother Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) - only has 26 and 33 points advantage on his two rivals, and the parcours gets quite hilly during the last 60 kilometres. After two climbs leading up to Bourges, the final circuit course in town features another 400-metre hill, averaging 5.3 percent, which will be raced four times before the riders cross the finish line.
Last year's winner Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom) will also participate to defend his title, and after winning the overall classification of the Tour du Poitou-Charentes as well as the Grand Prix Plouay a few weeks ago, the form of the cheeky attacker should be up to the challenge. The bunch will include 136 riders of a total of 17 teams: Bouygues Telecom, Cofidis, Crédit Agricole , Française des Jeux, Ag2r Prévoyance, Team CSC (Cancellara, Voigt, Kroon ), T-Mobile (Ciolek, Eisel, Hammond), Caisse d'Epargne (Valverde, Pereiro), Agritubel (Feillu), Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen, Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner, Roubaix Lille Métropole, Bretagne-Armor Lux, Auber 93, Team Designa Kokken, Babes Only Villapark and CCT Differdange.
Coppa Sabatini shapes up
The Coppa Sabatini, which is scheduled to run on October 11, has some great names in the line-up. Two-time World Champion Paolo Bettini will be racing as well as his runner-up, Alexandr Kolobnev. Cadel Evans is looking into getting in good condition to contend the ProTour overall, while the Schleck brothers Fränk and Andy are always aggressive in the races. The race will start in Peccioli and cover 197.7 kilometres. The finish is in Valdera, where it has been a tradition to do a few circuits through the downtown area and the town's historic centre.
The highlight of the 55th edition will undoubtedly be the participation of Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step - Innergetic), who recently successfully defended his rainbow jersey. The rider from La California lives only a few minutes by car from the start. Many local fans are expected along the routes. Bettini will have team-mate and Italian champion Giovanni Visconti at his disposal. With Bettini, Kolobnev, Fränk Schleck and Cadel Evans there will be four of the five riders who put the stamp on the Worlds' road race this year. Only Stefan Schumacher is missing.
The race will start at the stadium of Peccioli, the Stadio Comunale. Starting at 9:00 local time riders will be able to sign in and the teams will be presented. The neutral start will be at 11 and proceed through the historic centre of town. In La Tabaccaiaa a 22-kilometre circuit, to be repeated eight times, will be waiting for the riders. They will then proceed to the final circuit, via Bivio into Valdera. There will be two laps in Valdera to complete the race just shy of 200 kilometres.
The teams and some of their major players are Quick.Step-Innergetic (Bettini, Visconti, Matteo Tosatto and Andrea Tonti), Team Milram (Mirko Celestino, Andriy Grivko and Fabio Sacchi), Liquigas (Leonardo Bertagnolli, Enrico Gasparotto, Vincenzo Nibali, Luca Paolini), Lampre Fondital (Alessandro Ballan), CSC (Kolobnev, Andy and Fränk Schleck ), Saunier Duval - Prodir (Riccardo Riccò, Manuele Mori), Astana (Yakovlev), Predictor Lotto (Evans, Dario Cioni, Stefano Zanini), Team Barloworld (Félix Rafael Cárdenas, Kanstantsin Siutsou), Acqua & Sapone (Andrei Kunitski, Stefano Garzelli, Massimo Codol), LPR (Raffaele Ferrara, Daniele Nardello), Ceramica Flaminia (Mikhaylo Khalilov, Manuele Spadi), Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni (Alessandro Bertolini, Santo Anza), Tinkoff (Salvatore Commesso, Mikhail Ignatiev), OTC Doors Lauretana (Vladimyr Zagorodny), Miche (Przemyslaw Niemec, Krzysztof Szczawinski), Kio Ene (Maurizio Biondo), Universal Caffè (Daniele Di Nucci).
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Images by TeamSpirit
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Flexpoint adds youngster
Young rider Jacobien Kanis will turn pro with Team Flexpoint. The junior rider will be added to the 2008 roster and is the 11th rider on the squad. Besides the road team there will also be a dedicated cyclo-cross team. It will consist of Mirjam Melchers, Loes Gunnewijk, Britt Jochems, Loes Markerink, Tessa van Nieuwpoort. Van Nieuwpoort is also a new signing, but she will only participate in the cross season.
Thüringer Energie defends track title
Team Thüringer Energie has defended its Bundesliga track title in Büttgen, Germany. Even a crash by Marcel Barth could not stop the team. They held a slim lead of five and seven points over LKT Brandenburg and Rose Akud, respectively, going into the final Bundesliga race last weekend. The Bundesliga has been held for nine years, with Thüringer Energie winning eight of the final classification.
The team, consisting of Marcel Barth, Nico Graf, Lucas Schädlich and Philipp Klein, won four of the eight races over the weekend. Already on Saturday they won three races and relieved themselves from some of the pressure, having only a small margin of error. Klein was the fastest in the one-lap event, Graf was ahead of everyone else in the Scratch race and Barth and Klein won the most points in the Madison. And that despite Barth crashing heavily and losing a lot of skin.
Graf said that "with those successes we already won psychologically against the competitors." On day two Schädlich won the points race and secured the overall victory.
Overall the season had been very successful for Thüringer Energie, which started with an unexpected win by Tony Martin in the Italian Coppa Citta' di Asti in May. Then Tony Martin, Florian Frohn und Oliver Giesecke occupied all podium spots at the German hill championships. It was the first time in the history of the Bundesliga that a team had won maximum points in the teams classification.
The next highlight was Marcel Kittel's wearing of the young rider jersey in the Flèche du Sud, in Luxembourg. Martin went on to win FBD Insurance Ras in Ireland. He missed repeating a win in the Thüringen Rundfahrt by a slim two seconds.
Kittel, in his first year in the senior ranks, won the national U23 time trial title, while Patrick Gretsch won the bronze medal in the individual pursuit in the German track championships.
After a successful season Martin finished third in the season-long race series for the "Internationale Deutsche Meisterschaft." Kittel and Martin also participated in the World Championships in Stuttgart.
Directeur Sportif Jens Lang was very happy with the results. "Last year we won four medals at the national championships, this year we have seven. Additionally we have more wins and more placings." Team Manager Jörg Werner was really impressed with the ability to even shine internationally. "We were very successful in foreign countries. We won and were very active in one-day races as well as stage races. We can build on that. As a team we want to target the international scene, without leaving the German races behind."
The team will now take a break from racing and training for a few weeks and start the 2008 campaign with the batteries recharged.
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Germans dominate Tobago International Cycling Classic
German Andreas Henig of the Atlas Romer's Hausbäckerei team won the Tobago International Cycling Classic in Trinidad and Tobago. On the final day he was resilient enough to take the race overall, after five stages. He finished second to compatriot Erik Mohs on the final stage, ten seconds behind. But his overall lead of 2'11" was enough to secure the title, reported T&T's online paper newsday.co.tt
Mohs had an impressive performance, pulling away from the field, but unable to shake Henig, who stayed close to secure the victory in the end. Mohs was at least able to celebrate a stage win.
Another German, Nico Schneider, pedaled into the spotlight of the top three overall finishers with a classy finish yesterday. He sprinted home in third place, which also was his overall classification in the end. Fourth place on the stage and in the overall also went to a German, Alex Hauschke.
Trinidad and Tobago's Emile Abraham and Marloe Rodman of Jamaica were the only Caribbean riders to finish in the top ten of the Cycling Classic. The Pan Am Games silver medallist and Team Angostura local rider started the day in fourth, but dropped to ninth overall after a finishing 12th in the event's finale stage. Abraham was unable to keep up with the frenetic pace set by the Germans and was soon out of medal contention.
Meanwhile Rodman, who was in sixth place after the fourth stage, remained in the same position, having gotten sixth in the last stage.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2007)