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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for October 20, 2007

Edited by Laura Weislo

Feverish Valverde withdraws from Lombardy

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Cyclingnews will cover the 60th edition of the Dauphiné Libéré live as of stage 4 on Wednesday, June 10, at approximately 15:00 local Europe time (CEST)/ 23:00 Australian time (CDT)/ 9:00 (USA East).

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Spaniard Alejandro Valverde will not be able to contest the final ProTour race of the season or challenge Australian Cadel Evans for the overall ProTour series on Saturday, his team announced Friday. The Caisse d'Epargne rider will miss the Tour of Lombardy due to a fever.

The rider from Murcia was set to board the plane to Italy on Friday morning, but instead let his team know that he was too ill to make the trip. The team will now start with just seven riders.

Evans: On the cusp of ProTour success

Cadel Evans on the Tour podium
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The disqualification of Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) means that Cadel Evans will start Saturday's Tour of Lombardy as the clear leader in the ProTour classification. The Australian may not have won big during the season but he has nevertheless had a very impressive campaign, as Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes reports.

When the dust settles on the 2007 season, one of the standout riders of the year will be Predictor-Lotto's Cadel Evans. The 30 year old Australian started stockpiling results when he placed fifth on stage five of the Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol in February, and has continued ever since. Of those, the standout performances are second overall in the Dauphiné Libéré in June, second in the Tour de France in July, fourth in the Vuelta a España and fifth in the world road race championships in September.

Evan's consistency means that he heads into the final ProTour event of the season with an extremely strong chance of winning. On Tuesday it was announced that series leader Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) had been suspended by the Italian Olympic Committee CONI for three months due to his part in the 'Oil for Drugs' investigation. Then two days later the UCI announced that he had been disqualified from the competition under one of its rules, this sanction propelling Evans into the white jersey.

Speaking to Cyclingnews prior to the news of Di Luca's suspension and subsequent disqualification, Evans said that he was fired up to do well in the Tour of Lombardy. This will continue to be the case, even if he is under a little less pressure now. "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 [in terms of riding the Australian event in 2008].

"The Tour of Lombardy is certainly the best one-day race for me but also, by that standard, the same for Di Luca and Bettini. He won there last year so when he is good, he can right up be there as well. Rebellin and Schleck are also climbing really well at the moment."

As Evans showed with his fifth place in the world championships plus sixth in last weekend's Giro dell'Emilia, he is still going well despite what has been a very long season. "I am still riding all right," he said. "I will go to Lombardy and do what I can there. I am thinking about doing a good race, but also what happens with the ProTour."

Much of that pressure is off now that Di Luca is out, and his nearest competitor, Alejandro Valverde, has withdrawn from the race due to the flu. It would take stunning ride for third placed Oscar Freire to get over the Monte Ghisallo and the final two climbs within the last 20km and overtake Evans in the standings by winning and keeping Evans to a 8th or worse place finish.

For a breakdown of the ProTour standings, click here, and to see the current rankings, click here.

Read the full feature here.

Sastre ready for Lombardia

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Carlos Sastre (Team CSC)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

CSC's Spanish leader Carlos Sastre has had a strong 2007 season, and as he looked forward to the season closer, the Giro di Lombardia, he reflected that this year he "enjoyed cycling as he never has before". Even though his season has been long, he looked forward to the Italian race, saying it is "a very long and demanding race, but I will go into it with the intention of collaborating fully with my team-mates to get the victory".

Sastre has had a racing programme that would exhaust most riders, but compared to the his 2006 season, where he raced all three Grand Tours, Sastre is going into the final ProTour race feeling relatively fresh. "I feel good, better than expected," he said.

Sastre spent the last week in Italy racing with his team, and knows that he will be racing with one of the hot favourites for the victory in Como. "In the Coppa Sabatini I was getting in a lot of breaks, working for Schleck and Kolobnev, who are better than me at the end of the season," he explained. "It allowed me to be ready for the Giro del'Emilia, which Schleck won. I enjoyed the race. I think that CSC will start with strength and morale in Lombardia," the Spaniard assured.

He also travels to Barcelona to take part in the Escalada a Montjuic, in which he was second in 2005. "After competing in Italy, I reached an interesting peak of form."

WADA president responds to Lamour

Dick Pound
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

WADA president Dick Pound responded to harsh words from his vice-president Jean-François Lamour, who announced his withdrawal from the race for WADA president and his resignation as its Vice President this week. In his statement, Lamour was highly critical of the organisation, saying he did not want to be president of a group which had "no clear and straightforward vision of its mission, and which cannot stand firm against outside pressure."

Pound clarified that Lamour was never guaranteed the president's seat when Pound stepped down from his post. "While Mr. Lamour had been selected [...] to serve as the government representative in the position of WADA Vice President for the calendar year 2007, there was no guarantee that the governments [...] would nominate him as their sole candidate to WADA's presidency," Pound declared in a statement.

Lamour objected to the nomination of Australian John Fahey as a competitor for the post, decrying an "Anglo-Saxon"/European rift in the organisation over the doping rules and overall mission. Pound denied that there is an English-speaking bias at WADA, saying, "Mr. Lamour's suggestion that there is an "Anglo-Saxon" conspiracy against him is incorrect, inappropriate and neglects the fact that represented in the decision-making are representatives of all five continents."

Pound went on to say that Lamour's criticism of WADA is unfounded because, "Not once during [his tenure] has he raised any concerns about the leadership and direction of the fight against doping that had been led by WADA. His sudden about-face in his public enunciations regarding WADA is astounding, unfortunate and suspect, in view of his previous support and commitment."

Lamour proposed that Europe create its own anti-doping agency, one that would hold more tightly to the "European" view, "holding on to ethics and the protection of athletes, fighting trafficking – a sort of international police officer in the fight against doping," Lamour described.

Pound refuted the need for another agency, saying, "The whole purpose to this international agency is to harmonize rules and policies, yet Lamour's recent proposals go counter to the entire premise behind the organization of which he was an active vice president until his resignation this week."

Tankink to Rabobank

Dutch rider Bram Tankink will leave the Quick.Step-Innergetic team to ride for the Dutch Rabobank squad for the next two years, the team announced Friday. The 27 year-old Tankink started his cycling career on the mountain bike, but switched to the road in 2001, when he rode for the Domo-Farm Frites team. He joined the Quick.Step team in 2003.

Tankink is a strong all-rounder, having taken a stage of the Deutschland Tour in 2005 and this year's GP Jef Scherens. As an espoir, Tankink was the Dutch champion in 2000. Rabobank manager Erik Breukink is hoping to get more out of Tankink than just a strong domestique. "Bram Tankink is an all-round rider. He's one of the better riders in The Netherlands. In the Quick.Step team his role was that of a helper. We think he's capable of doing more than just that."

Milram signs Velits twins

The recently crowned U23 World Champion Peter Velits, will spend the next two years riding for the Milram team, the organization announced on Friday. The 22 year-old, who was part of the now defunct Wiesenhof team, will also bring along his twin brother Martin. The Slovakian brothers will have a chance to ride alongside superstar sprinters Alessandro Petacchi and Erik Zabel, now that it is confirmed that Zabel will remain with the German team.

Selle Italia signs Venezuelans

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Venezuelan Carlos Ochoa has signed with the Professional Continental team Selle Italia-Venezuela. The 26 year-old was one of four Venezuelans recruited to the team as part of an agreement between manager Gianni Savio and the Venezuelan cycling federation (FVC), according to EFE.

Artemio Leonett, the Sports Minister of Venezuela, and Savio agreed to the signing of four local riders to the Selle Italia Diquigiovanni squad with the aim of advancing their development in Europe in preparation for the Beijing Olympic Games and the UCI World Championships in Varese in 2008.

Savio said that this arrangement will give to Venezuela more power in international cycling. "Today is an important day, a giant step has been made for the development of cycling in Venezuela. I am convinced that working with discipline, enthusiasm and determination we can achieve great results in the future", he predicted.

The continental professional team Diquigiovanni Selle Italia-Venezuela will led in 2008 by the Italian climber Gilberto Simoni, the two-time Giro d'Italia winner, and Ricardo Ochoa and Carlos Ochoa.

The recruitment of the other two Venezuelan riders for this squad will be implemented before the end of October.

Directors unite

Professional cycling has team organisations IPCT (ProTour teams) and AIGCP (The International Association of Professional Cycling Teams) and the riders' organisation, CPA (Association of Professional Cyclists), and will now have another association just for team directors. The new professional association, the ADISPRO, or the International Association of Directeur Sportifs (ADISPRO), was announced on Friday in Varese. The ADISPRO will be based in Milan, and will appoint its executive committee in November.

The new association's president, Alberto Volpi, director of Barloworld, was pleased to finally realize his dream of uniting team directors, which will consist of team directors from six different countries (Italy, France, Belgium, Spain, Denmark and Australia).

Vasseur elected president of the CPA

Cédric Vasseur
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

Quick.Step's Cédric Vasseur may be hanging up his bike after the Tour of Lombardy, but he has already found a job to keep him occupied in his retirement. Vasseur was elected President of the International Association of Professional Cyclists (CPA), the organisation announced Friday. He will replace Italian Francesco Moser who has held that post since 1999.

The CPA's management will now focus on strengthening the CPA,"based on the union between all the riders and the credibility of their association in relation to all the authorities involved in cycling."

With a rider fresh out of the peloton, the group hopes to maintain close contact with the riders, and promised to "take care that sport will become once again the protagonist and that the riders' exploits [will] have the place they deserve in the media," a statement read. The organisation also wants cooperation between "the sponsors, the organizers and all the national and international authorities [...] so that cycling is no longer permanently pointed at," and that in the future, "all the sports are treated on an equal footing."

Pezula Racing team launched in Ireland

The Pezula racing team
Photo ©: Adrian Reade
(Click for larger image)

The Pezula Racing team was launched in Cong, County Mayo on Thursday 18th October. Over 100 guests attended the launch at the Lisloughrey Lodge hotel for the presentation of the UCI track registered team which will be led by Irish national road race champion David O'Loughlin.

The Irish team has been developed with David's uncle Declan who owns the Pezula company providing project and cost management services to the construction industry.

"The whole project started about six months ago," said Declan O'Loughlin: "I asked David if I could help him with some backing for his bid on the track for Olympic Selection. It eventually grew into a plan for a nine man track team registered with the UCI."

David O'Loughlin led the Irish national team challenge in the 2007 track world championships after qualifying through the UCI World Cup series in the men's points race and individual pursuit events.

O'Loughlin's new team will include former Navigators team-mate Ciarán Power, Ryan Connor, Martin Irvine, Paul Healion and Morgan Fox next year. The team will be based in Ireland but will be doing most of their track racing abroad as their home country does not yet have an indoor track. The team will also be competing on the road and will consider registering with the UCI as a continental team in the future.

Irish Champion David O'Loughlin
Photo ©: Adrian Reade
(Click for larger image)

"Our ultimate aim is to qualify for the Olympics - not just to qualify but to win a medal," said Declan O'Loughlin: "We want to give these guys the best chance possible. We are in for the long haul and we see this as a three to five-year plan."

O'Loughlin is quick to point out his road ambitions for the fledgling team. "On the road we hope to be participating in the Tour de Langkawi, FBD Rás, Philadelphia Week and the Premier Calendar series in the UK as well as the Tour of Ireland and Tour of Britain."

The team debuts in competitive action on the track on Saturday night competing in the Revolutions track meeting with a number of the team making the trip to Manchester.

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