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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for October 25, 2007

Edited by Sue George with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

Tour de France 2008 to start in Brest and visit Italy

By Jean-François Quénet in Paris

Contador will be looking to repeat at the 2008 Tour
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

No spectacular announcement is expected at the launch of the 2008 Tour de France at lunch time on Thursday in Paris. The organizing company ASO has already given the UCI credit for working together with WADA on the new concept of the biological passport that should ensure that no cyclist will be able to undergo blood doping prior to the start of the event scheduled for July 5 in Brest.

There is also no longer a question of national teams contesting the Tour de France rather than trade teams. In fact, the only remaining controversy is about the new rule put in place by the UCI which states that all ProTour teams must be invited to take part in the Tour de France even though the race is no longer on the UCI ProTour calendar in 2008.

"We have said and said again that we have no link whatsoever with the ProTour; the UCI has accepted it, so there's no reason why we should be obliged to line up the ProTour teams," said ASO president Patrice Clerc to the Associated Press.

Therefore, the launch of the 2008 Tour de France should be mostly about the route. It's already official that it will start for the sixth time in Brittany, which is the hotbed of French cycling. It happened previously in 1952, 1964, 1974, 1985 and 1995 and those Tours all crowned great winners: Fausto Coppi, Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.

The town chosen for the Grand Départ is Brest, the same as in 1974. The Tour de France has never returned to the military harbour town of the extreme west of France since. For the first time in 40 years, the race will not start with a prologue, an exercise that was introduced in 1967 in Angers and only replaced by a "preface" in 1988 in La Baule. Stage one will be 170 kilometres long and it will take the riders to Plumelec and its famous uphill finish of Cadoudal, the same that saw Erik Zabel winning a stage ahead of Franck Vandenbroucke ten years ago.

For the first time also, it's not a town but a region that is in charge of hosting the Grand Départ. That's why the race will visit the four provinces of Brittany (stage 2 from Auray to Saint-Brieuc at the same place where Filippo Pozzato won in 2004 and stage 3 starting from the historical pirate's town of Saint-Malo) before heading to Cholet (on July 8), Châteauroux (July 9), Super-Besse (July 10) and Aurillac (July 11). Those cities have already broken the news despite the secrecy requested by ASO prior to the official launch.

Stage 6 to Super-Besse will be the first mountainous one. Then the race logically heads to the Pyrénées with strong rumours locating an uphill finish in Hautacam where Bjarne Riis won a legendary stage of the 1996 Tour – something he admitted this year was achieved with doping. In the Alps, a stage finish in Pratonevoso near Sestrières in Italy prior to a rest day in Cuneo, also in the province of Piedmont, has been reported by the Italian press. It's also very likely that the Tour will return to a stage finish up L'Alpe d'Huez in 2008 and French newspaper La Nouvelle République has found out that the final time trial on July 26 will be held between Cerilly and Saint-Amand-Montrond. The Grand Tour will finish July 27.

Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for full coverage of the 2008 Tour de France launch.

Skoda renews Tour de France sponsorship

Tour de France peloton
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

In a time when some non-cycling sponsors are leaving the sport in the wake of doping scandals, Czech car maker Skoda Auto renewed its sponsorship of the Tour de France for four more years until 2011 on Wednesday according to Reuters.

"Cycling is a worldwide phenomenon ... We want to be where our existing and potential customers are and, at the same time, help support this wonderful sport," said Martin Lauer, head of corporate communications in a statement.

"By this move, we want to help the organizers to clean up cycling," Skoda spokesman Jaroslav Cerny told Associated Press. "We want to support them in good as well as bad times."

Skoda started its Tour sponsorship in 2004. The deal extends to other Amaury Sport Organization (ASO) events like Paris Roubaix according to the Associated Press.

IPCT & AIGCP want peaceful 2008

Two key cycling organizations commented on the 2008 UCI calendar and urged a peaceful start to the 2008 season. The International Professional Cycling Teams (ICPT) and International Group of Cycling Professionals (AIGCP) said in a statement Wednesday that they had noticed that the UCI decided not to put a number of major events on the ProTour calendar for 2008. Many events like the Grand Tours and other major events organized by ASO, RCS Sport, and Unipublic have been omitted.

The statement said that considering the situation, the teams would act directly with the organizers about their participation in those events and that they could not appreciate the UCI imposing their criteria of all ProTour teams competing considering the events were not on the ProTour calendar.

The statement concluded by asking for a quick resolution to the ongoing dialogue for the purpose of guaranteeing a peaceful season in 2008 and avoiding the polemics that characterized the start of the 2007 season.

Arndt hits the road running

Judith Arndt happy to have finished
Photo ©: t-mobile-team.com
(Click for larger image)

Judith Arndt showed what a world-class athlete can do, when she ran the Dresden Marathon last weekend with only minimal preparations. The T-Mobile rider finished in her first marathon in a time of 3:32:24, giving her place 32 among the women and sixth in her age group. "It is unbelievable what the body can accomplish, when the head really wants it."

"I only heard about this race seven days earlier, so there wasn't time to do any real preparation," the 31-year-old said on t-mobile-team.com. "On the Tuesday before the race I ran for two hours for the first time, and during the team meeting in Cologne I was able to get in two training sessions."

She was a little nervous before the race, "whether I would make it to the end or put too much pressure on my joints, but it went better than expected. I ran controlled over the first half of the race, then in the second half I could give gas. My legs started to get stiff in the last five kilometers, but I still felt good. I wanted to try it and now I am very happy," Arndt concluded.

The 2004 World Champion found a similarity to cycling, too. "The only place it was dangerous and chaotic was at the feeding zones. There was no difference there between cycling and running races."

It was Arndt's first marathon, but not her last. "I would like to know how fast I can go when I really train for it." But she will not be quitting her real job, although she is not sure when she will get back on her bike. "I'll have to see when I can start cycling again, because my legs do still hurt a little," she concluded.

Sinkewitz testifies, but names no names

Patrik Sinkewitz (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Patrik Sinkewitz has had his say before the Bund Deutscher Radfahrer (BDR), the German cycling federation, and told all, but he didn't name any names. Instead, he provided "knowledge about the cycling system" and asked to be considered as a cooperative witness, in hopes of receiving a shorter suspension. Sinkewitz tested positive for testosterone during his preparations for the Tour de France.

His attorney, Michael Lehner, told the dpa agency that his client hopes for "good negotiations" for a "justifiable sentence: not more than one year suspension". A decision is expected within two weeks.

The former T-Mobile rider faces more than a suspension, though. Since he had signed the UCI's "Commitment to a new cycling", he will be expected to pay a year's salary.

Meanwhile, Bonn, Germany, prosecutors continue to investigate Sinkewitz for defrauding his former team, T-Mobile, and various race organizers. "Our possibilities go a bit further," said public prosecutor Fred Apostel.

Pohl in hospital following training crash

Steffi Pohl of Team Getränke Hoffman is in hospital in Berlin following a training crash. The 20 year-old is suffering from head injuries and numerous bruises and scrapes. According to a team press release, she was cross training when she crashed, flying several meters through the air before landing heavily. She will remain in the hospital for further tests.

Quick.Step - Innergetic 2008 prepares for first meeting

Nearly all the members of the 2008 Quick.Step-Innergetic team will meet together for the first time on Thursday and Friday at Knokke on the Belgian coast. The only exceptions are Steven De Jongh and Sebastien Rosseler who are away on holiday.

As well as planning the new forthcoming season, the meeting at Knokke will be a chance for athletes, technical staff and sponsors to celebrate the team's 51 victories during the 2007 season. Perhaps the highlight of the season was when team leader Paolo Bettini defended his World Championship title in Stuttgart, Germany in September.

Cordero agrees with the biological passport

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Vuelta organiser Victor Cordero
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

Speaking from Paris, Victor Cordero, gave his opinion on the biological passports being proposed as the next anti-doping measure. "It seems [to be] the solution because the scientific community assures that it is more reliable and provides more measures than [anti-doping] methods used until now."

According to the EFE press agency, the director of the Vuelta a España considers the biological passports "the clearest opportunity to solve the problem of doping in cycling and show that it is a sport completely controlled. Everything is ready to implement the passport in January 2008. WADA and the UCI have to lay the groundwork for its implementation and the necessary regulatory measures."

The UCI and WADA will work together in the coming months to just that. They have proposed monitoring levels of certain blood and urine parameters for any sudden changes that may be due to the consumption of doping substances. "Changes in the levels will be monitored and tell us if there are cheats," explained Cordero.

He added that the passports should be used not just in cycling but in other sports, too, pointing out that their use should benefit riders like Floyd Landis and Roberto Heras, who have tested positive and left others wondering about the winner of the race for months afterward. Cordero defended the passports as a way to start from "kilometer zero because it allows us to work looking forward and without thinking in the past."

Redondo aspires to new leadership role at Andalucia-Cajasur

By Antonio J. Salmerón

The Spanish squad Andalucia-Cajasur replaced its lost leader veteran Luis Pérez, who left cycling following his win in the Ávila in the Vuelta, with two riders from ProTour teams, Jose Antonio Redondo from Astana and promising sprinter Francisco José Ventoso, who made his debut in 2004 with the Saunier Duval-Prodir Team.

The 22 year-old Redondo, who made his professional debut with the now defunct Liberty-Würth team at the end of 2005, formalized his preliminary agreement with the Andalusian professional continental squad for two seasons. Born in Alcazar de San Juan, the Spaniard hopes to approach his new role "much more in calmly" according to EFE. He named two main goals for 2008: the Vuelta a Andalucia in February and the Vuelta a España in September, but he is not ruling out his chances at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco or the Volta a Catalunya.

After all the problems at his previous two teams, Redondo is looking forward to calmer waters at Andalucia-Cajasur. "Although it is not a top-level squad, it is surrounded by good people who believe in their work," he said.

Gasparotto to ride with Hunter and Cooke

A happy Gasparotto
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Team Barloworld has signed Italy's Enrico Gasparotto for the 2008 season. The 25 year-old from the north-eastern Friuli region of Italy has agreed a one-year contract with team manager Claudio Corti after racing for the Liquigas team in recent years. Gasparotto turned professional 2005 and won three races. Before becoming a cyclist, he was part of the AC Milan youth football team.

This season Gasparotto wore the race leader's pink jersey at the Giro d'Italia after the opening team time trial won by Liquigas. He then helped team leader Danilo Di Luca win the final overall classification. Gasparotto has a reputation as a strong sprinter; he'll join Barloworld's other sprinters including Tour de France stage winner Robbie Hunter of South Africa and another new signing Baden Cooke of Australia.

"Gasparotto can be trusted to get results in the races that suit him and will be vital to the team if our race calendar includes two major stage races," Corti said.

Julich extends with Team CSC

Bobby Julich (CSC)
Photo ©: Jonathan Devich
(Click for larger image)

Bobby Julich has extended his contract with Team CSC for one more year according to team-csc.com. At 35, he will be one of the veterans on the squad. In 2007, he finished second overall in the Sachsen Tour International and fourth in the Tour of California this year. As a strong time trialist, Julich came fifth in the USA Cycling Professional Time Trial Championships. In 2004, he was the bronze medallist at the Olympic Games.

"I'm happy with my extension, because I think I still have a lot to contribute to the team," said Julich. "Also I'm still motivated to get results, but most of all I really wanna be there for the young riders. We have a fantastic team with some huge talents and I'm proud to help them on their way. At the same time I think that I'm still very much able to compete at top level and stay up front in some of the big races. I haven't made the decision about when to end my career yet, but I'm proud to be able to be a part of the worlds best cycling team for another year – a team which is also known for its sizeable effort in the fight against doping."

Team manager Bjarne Riis called Julich an ambassador for the team and predicted better results in 2008 following an injury-plagued year in 2007.

New cycling velodrome planned for Leicester

The proposed Beaumount Sports Complex
Photo ©: British Cycling
(Click for larger image)

Following the closure of the Saffron Lane velodrome over 10 years ago, the United Kingdom is moving forward to replace what was once a top cycling facility.

A new velodrome is as integral part of the plans for the exciting new Beaumont sports complex adjacent to Beaumont Leys leisure centre. The proposed complex will include a motorbike speedway stadium that will be home to the reformed Leicester Lions as well as a state of the art five-a-side football facility. And not only will it house a brand new velodrome, but also a national standard BMX track.

British Cycling is so delighted at the news that it will move its regional headquarters, including four full time staff, to the site. Leicestershire resident Gary Coltman who won eight British National track titles at Saffron Lane and now heads up the world class Olympic Talent Programme is excited about the development and the opportunities it offers to local residents.

"At a time when cycling is a leading Olympic Sport and Great Britain is the world's number one track cycling nation, there hasn't been a better time to replace the famous facility that was not only home to track cycling in the UK but also provided so many great opportunities to the residents of Leicester."

"Participation of cycling has risen by an incredible 40% over the last 12 months," add Coltman. "It is very much a growing sport and with BMX now in the Olympics, it is simply a great time build a facility that houses both track and BMX. Geographically it is perfect with great transport links for visitors from across the region as well as being situated very close to the National Cycle Network and providing opportunities for other types of cycling at the complex."

Basques get new amateur team

By Monika Prell

For the next two years, the Basque province of Alava will be home to an amateur team sponsored by Naturgas. 80% of the riders are from or were born in Alava. Management presented the team Tuesday at the Hotel Lakua in Vitoria, in the capital of the Basque country.

Naturgas will work closely with the Euskaltel - Euskadi team. Six of the 11 confirmed riders are on stipend from the Fundación Euskadi including Ricardo García, Andoni Sánchez, Aitor Valderrama, Jurgen Jabato and debutants Mikel Landa and Jon Aberasturi.

The Naturgas team succeeds the now defunct Hotel Ruta Europa team with a budget of between 150,000 and 180,000 Euros. Riders will race on bikes from Orbea, a Basque company. The team will be directed by Álex Diaz, who is a former Saunier Duval - Prodir rider and who gave up cycling in 2005.

JETS announce 2008 roster

The Junior Elite Talent Squad (JETS) a junior development racing team based in Northern California, supported by Rocket Sports Foundation, Inc., has finalized its team roster for the 2008 season.

Returning athletes are Nathanael Christensen, Matt Millar, Joseph Christensen, Abba Christensen, Resat Taser, Stefan Fuller, Sophia Fuller, Jon Christensen, Robert Terra, Bowen Terra, and Stuart Fuller while new additions will include Daniel Bowman, Caleb Knaggs, Conner Phillips, Robbie Farrens, Natalie Bowman, Ryan Messersmith, Alyssa Farrens, Joseph Phillips, and Benjamin McDonald.

In 2007, JETS scored age group wins at the Copperopolis Road Race, the Davis Criterium, the Sacramento Cyclo-cross Series, and three top twenty placing at USA Cycling's Junior Road National Championships. The squad will be coached by Robert Fuller, Erim Taser, Robert Nichols, Guy Terra and Laura Christensen.

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