First Edition Cycling News for October 17, 2007
Edited by Greg Johnson & Paul Verkuylen
UCI examining Di Luca situation, Evans motivated for good Lombardia
By Shane Stokes
Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) may be leading the ProTour but he will miss the final race of the series due to the three month suspension announced on Tuesday. It remains to be seen if there will be bigger repercussions than that for the Italian rider, such as the loss of his white jersey.
Because the matter in question [namely his collaboration with controversial doctor Carlos Santuccione] relates to previous seasons rather than the current one, the situation is less than clear-cut. Di Luca current heads the ProTour classification going into the final race, the Giro di Lombardia, but is just 15 points ahead of Cadel Evans.
When contacted by Cyclingnews, ProTour manager Alain Rumpf said that the UCI is studying the matter. "We are currently investigating the consequences of today's decision of the CONI on Di Luca's status in the 2007 UCI ProTour rankings," he said. "As we have not yet received the official decision of CONI, we do not expect to come to a conclusion before tomorrow [Wednesday]."
Should the UCI decide that there are no grounds to disqualify Di Luca, Evans would still need to pull out a strong performance on Saturday in Lombardia before taking what would be a first-ever Australian victory in the ProTour series. Sixth place is worth 20 points, with seventh netting 15.
Speaking prior to the news of Di Luca's suspension, Evans said that he was motivated to do well in the weekend's race. "It is the most suitable one-day of the race for year for me, but unfortunately it is also the last race of the year," he stated early on Tuesday. "Considering that my other home race is the Tour Down Under, which is the first race of the year in January, that makes things difficult for me.
"It is certainly the most suitable one-day race for me but also, by that standard, the same for Di Luca and Bettini," he continued. "He won there last year so when he is good, he can be right up be there as well. Rebellin and Schleck are also climbing really well at the moment. I am going there aiming to do a good race, not just thinking of the ProTour. If I did win it [the series] it would be very prestigious…coming second isn't such a big deal, it seems."
O'Grady: I was pretty s**t scared
Stuart O'Grady has admitted to feeling a little uneasy when confronted with his first descent on Monday since his horrific accident while descending on the Tour de France's Stage 8 in July. The 34 year-old suffered a broken shoulder, fractured eight ribs, a collarbone, three vertebrae and also punctured a lung, resulting in a blood clot on the brain in July's accident that ended his Tour and threatened his career.
"I was pretty s**t scared out there today," O'Grady told guests of his first descent since the accident at a Mitchelton Winery function on Monday evening.
The Jayco Herald Sun Tour in Melbourne, Australia, where O'Grady is competing with the composite Jacyo-Australian National Team, is the South Australian's first race since July's crash. O'Grady added that despite his emotions on Monday's stage, the crash hasn't affected his ability to be competitive saying "it's just a matter of getting out there and doing it".
"Going down the descent...what if you go off the road or hit a pole?" he said. "You can't let that stuff enter your mind, otherwise you might as well hang up your boots. If it was anything to do with my brain, I wouldn't be sitting here. Bones will heal, so it's just a matter of getting out there and doing it."
O'Grady is working for fellow ProTour rider and compatriot Trent Lowe at this week's race. Heading into today's Stage 3 Lowe sits in 10th position on general classification, 56 seconds behind Australian race leader Matthew Wilson (Unibet.com).
Kashechkin proclaims innocence
Former Astana rider Andrey Kashechkin has broken his silence concerning his positive doping test from August, in an interview with L'Equipe. He continued to proclaim his innocence and announced, "I am ready to fight," he declared. "I have still not seen any official confirmation of my positive test."
"On August 1, two Belgian controllers looked me up in Turkey, where I was on vacation," said the Kazakh rider, who lives in Belgium. "I had the impression they were working chaotically. They had been hurried and seemed relived that it was over.
"The next day I started to have my doubts," he added. "The inspectors had every opportunity to make a mess of my sample."
The former Astana rider was found to be positive for a homologous blood transfusion, which was confirmed by the B test. "I have absolutely no possibility of proving my innocence," he said. "I want the UCI to listen to me, but everything is going on over my head. I have decided to take legal steps. That might be extreme, but it is my last chance."
He has filed a court case which charges the UCI with violating his privacy by releasing the information of his doping controls. "I hope that justice will be done," said Kashechkin. "If I were guilty, I would not continue to proclaim my innocence."
Boogerd released as Lombardia hangs in the balance
Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) was released by doctors at the Netherland's Meander MC hospital in Amersfoort overnight, however the Dutch rider's participation at the weekend's Giro di Lombardia is yet to be determined. Boogerd is recovering from Erysipelas, a bacterial infection, in his left knee contracted after a crash during training last Friday.
Boogerd's participation in Saturday's ProTour race, which is slated to be the last of his professional career, won't be determined until Thursday according to an announcement by the squad.
A release by the team concluded, "the Giro di Lombardia is still in Michael Boogerd's agenda as his final big race."
Amsterdam bids for Giro 2010 start
The City of Amsterdam wants to host the start of the 2010 Giro d'Italia, it was announced Tuesday. Amsterdam's mayor Alderman Carolien Gehrels said that the Dutch capital would change itself into 'Little Italy' for the occasion, according to the Belga press agency. In addition, the city of The Hague would like to hold the start of a stage. The Netherlands last hosted the start of the Giro in 2002.
Vasseur to become APC chairman
Cédric Vasseur looks certain to become the new chairman of the Associated Professional Cyclists when the position is filled this Friday in Italy. As the only candidate for the position, Frenchman Vasseur is likely to become the successor of current chairman Francesco Moser.
Moser has been the chairman of the association since its inception in 1999, and has called the Annual General Meeting for this Friday, a day before the Giro di Lombardia.
After retiring from competition this season, the 37 year-old Vasseur put his nomination for the job forward, which has been supported by many of his former colleagues. "The candidacy of Cédric Vasseur, a member of the racers council, has been supported by many of his colleagues from many different nations, which we have taken as a good sign from the group," a spokesperson for the body told HLN.be.
Hammer back on track
Having spent the summer recovering from a debilitating back injury that forced her to miss the Pan Am Games, two-time World Champion Sarah Hammer is back on track in her pursuit of gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The 24 year-old put some racing kilometers into her legs last week at the U.S. National Track Championships in Carson, California where she trains twice a week.
"It felt good to be racing again," Hammer admitted. "There was no pressure so I was able to just get out there and enjoy myself. More importantly, the back gave me no problems and I'm very happy about that."
Hammer and coach Andy Sparks decided it would be safe to ease back into action, thus she sat out the individual pursuit. Instead the Temecula, California resident competed in both the men's and women's team pursuit.
After using the men's event early in the week as training, Hammer proved to be firing on all cylinders in the women's team pursuit, a new event that will be held for the first time at the 2008 World Track Championships. Teaming with national sprint and keirin champion Jennie Reed and newly crowned individual pursuit champion Dotsie Bausch, Hammer helped power the women over the three kilometers to a national championship in a world record time of 3:34.783.
"It was so much fun to race with Jennie and Dotsie," said Hammer. "It was our first time (racing) together so we're only going to get smoother and faster."
Eisel accepts new role in team
When Bernhard Eisel joined T-Mobile Team for the 2007 season, he figured to be the top sprinter on the team. Now, a year later, the 26 year-old has to look up to his two younger team-mates who out-sprinted him during the season. Mark Cavendish (11 wins) and Gerald Ciolek (eight wins) both easily surpassed the Austrian, who seems resigned to his new role in the team.
Eisel did however give the team its first victory of the season - a stage win in the Volta ao Algarve. His other wins came in June when he won two of the three races in the Crown Series in the US and took the overall title.
"Cavendish and Ciolek were simply stronger," he admitted to sport1.at. "I put myself behind them, did what I could and actually don't feel bad in this role. Quite good, actually, to be honest."
The young duo's rise will mean a realignment in Eisel's approach going forward. "I must immediately put myself in the service of the team," he noted. "I am more of a sprint preparer, and won't be able to ride for myself any more. I want to do this work even better and also do better at the Classics."
He may not be totally satisfied with this role, but says he has to live with it. "I could keep on trying for two or three years to become faster, but what's the point?" said Eisel. "There are simply a couple of riders, who happen to be in my team, who are better than I am. That is the reality that I have to face."
Eisel has not given up his dream of a Tour de France stage win. He has started the Tour four times, including this season, where he had three top 10 finishes, but never higher than sixth. "I will still get my chances, just in other races," he added. "That doesn't mean that I won't ride the Tour de France again or that I will never win a stage there. How a stage win comes or what happens, nobody can tell. Why not out of an escape group?"
He looks back at the 2007 season positively. "I don't recognize any mistakes, achieved what I could and am absolutely satisfied with that," said Eisel. "I completed my assignments, and nobody has complained about it."
The win in Algarve was his most important one this season, he said, as the team's first in the season. "That makes the work a big lighter, takes the pressure off the team," he explained. "It was a win at the right time."
Goesinnen wins, Unibet.com nears end
Floris Goesinnen (Skil-Shimano) was over the moon yesterday after claiming his first professional victory, the Belgian calendar finale Sluitingsprijs van Putte-Kapellen. "I am going to call home straight away to let them know that it's going to be a late night tonight," said the Dutch rider.
Goesinnen won the event by 14 seconds over compatriot Roy Sentjens (Predictor-Lotto) after attacking a break that included team-mate Maarten Den Bakker in the race's closing stages. "I knew that I was one of the fastest in the break, but I didn't want to take the risk of arriving at the finish with the six others," he explained of his tactics to HLN.be. "That's why I attacked twice. The first time everyone jumped straight on my wheel. The second time I got away. It's a good feeling to win here with all these people."
Goesinnen's victory was his first since stepping up from amateur to professional two years ago. "I am not someone that wins a lot, but today was finally my turn," he said excitedly. "The first win is finally done."
Sentjens admitted to feeling the effects of being in a Skil-Shimano "vice". "I really was in a Skil-Shimano vice, I reacted to everyone of their attacks, but when Goesinnen went the last time it was up to the other riders to close it down," he explained. "Eventually I went on the counter alone, but the gap was just too big to close down and I finished a few meters behind. I have had a turbulent year, with some setbacks at crucial times. This makes up for some of it."
While Goesinnens was busy making his own history, ProTour squad Unibet.com was writing the final chapter in its own history. After a year that saw the squad make its ProTour debut only to be 'team non grata' at the majority of ProTour events, the Sluitingsprijs, or 'finishing prize', was a fitting name for its last race on Belgian soil.
One year and a day ago, Unibet.com won its first race in here after hearing that it had been granted a ProTour licence. At the time, it was Gorik Gardeyn who crossed the line first, but this year his name was not to be seen on the results sheet at all. Team director Hilaire Van der Schueren, summed up the feeling within the team. "We ride today with regret in our hearts," he said.
A disappointed Van der Schueren looked back on the team that he built up from an amateur squad into one of the world's strongest teams, on paper at least, as there were very few opportunities for the team to show just how strong it really was. Of the few times that they could race, they were generally unprepared due to the lack of big races in their legs.
"On paper we had one of the strongest teams in the peloton, if we could have had the chance to swap the weaker links in the team with stronger riders for next season then we would have away, but yeah, that's history now," he said disappointedly. "Because we were not allowed to ride Paris Nice, we had to do back flips top find other races. I was on my knees with the Tour of Murcia. Luckily I still have some contacts."
Van der Schueren isn't done yet though, he is waiting to hear from team manager Jacques Hanegraaf regarding a new project for next year. "Jacques is busy with a project overseas," he said. "I am waiting to hear from him in a few days. If that doesn't happen I will set something up with Charel Palmans (of Palmans-Collstrop), the only thing that we need is money."
Bannan signs with Pro Cycling Australia
Australian cycling coach Shayne Bannan has been appointed Team Manager of Pro Cycling Australia, the Australian company with an ambitious plan to contest the 2009 Tour de France. In his role with Pro Cycling Australia, Bannan will be responsible for overseeing the establishment and operation of the first-ever Australian ProTour cycling team.
"The Tour de France is the world's most prestigious cycling event and every coach aspires to one day lead a team into this great race," said Bannan. "The fact that this team will be representing Australia and featuring some of our greatest cyclists makes it even more special."
A former elite-level track and road cyclist, Bannan has spent the past seven years as High Performance Director of the Cycling Australia/Australian Institute of Sport High Performance Program. For the past two years Bannan has been Business Manager of the Australian Sports Commission's European Training Centre in Italy, which, when completed in 2008, will act as the base for Australian athletes from all sports who travel to Europe to compete at the top level.
"There is a long road in front of us but it will all be worth it when a green and gold team lines up in the 2009 Tour de France," he said.
Bannan has been involved as a cyclist or coach in the past five Olympic Games, four Commonwealth Games and numerous World Championships. Pro Cycling Australia is back by the Roamfree Group, who committed $20 million to fund the organisation earlier this year.
Haselbacher ends season
Astana's Rene Haselbacher has dropped out of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour in Australia during the second stage. He caught a nasty cold on Saturday, which he was unable to overcome. "The antibiotics that I have to take for it have killed me," he noted. "I couldn't do anything more, so that is the end of my season."
The Austrian had lost 12 minutes in the first stage, and was in 51st place overall at the time of withdrawal.
New cat joins NRC circuit
Vanderkitten has announced it will expand its NRC involvement to a six-women elite team as well as developmental and regional support riders in 2008, following on from the single rider it fielded in 2007. Vanderkitten Racing, as the squad will be known, is currently laying plans that will see the company play a larger role within the NRC series after it fielded a single rider, Liz Hatch, in 2007.
"Our success in sponsoring Liz Hatch in 2007 has convinced us that Vanderkitten and cycling go hand in hand," said Venderkitten's Mark Zefeldt." Our focus next year will be the majority of the NRC calendar, and to that effect we have signed four immensely talented girls with another two athletes to be announced shortly."
In addition to the re-signing of Hatch, the team will field Atlanta's Leigh Valletti, Charlottesville's Mandy Lozano and Mill Valley's Christine Vardaros. The team is currently accepting resumes for the remaining two spots in its elite squad.
"Vanderkitten is thrilled to support these hard working, vibrant athletes and the sport of women's cycling," said Vanderkitten's founder David Verrecchia. "We're all looking forward to the upcoming season with great anticipation. Vanderkitten's mission since its inception is to create a long-term relationship with cycling and raise the bar of sponsorships for women athletes.
"High profile athletes provide a tremendous marketing value to all parties associated with their image," he added. "Women influence both female and male purchasing decisions. Why, then, have women typically earned less than 10 percent of most pro male athletes salaries?"
The clothing company-backed squad its expected to announce more details about its 2008 plans over the coming months.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2007)