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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for October 31, 2007

Edited by Greg Johnson & Paul Verkuylen

Hanegraaf secures sponsor, awaiting UCI decision

Team Manager Jacques Hanegraaf
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

Dutch cycling team manager Jacques Hanegraaf, who operated the ProTour squad through his company, Cycle AB, is busy planning a new team for the 2008 season having secured a new title sponsor. The outfit is expected to be built around the remaining structure of the now defunct squad, according to the Belgian newspaper La Derničre Heure, however what level licence the squad participates under is in the UCI's hands.

"I have found a new sponsor for next season," Hanegraaf confirmed. "I have good reason to be optimistic. I can't say much about the team, but what I can say is that I am waiting on an answer from the UCI to find out at what level the squad will be – in the ProTour or as a Professional Continental Team. Once I have heard, then I will be able to tell you more on the teams structure."

Hanegraaf didn't release any further information about the squad's new sponsor; however the news will come as a welcome surprise for many of the riders who are still looking for a new employer in an increasingly difficult job market. "We are looking at a squad of a minimum of 15 riders, but everything hangs on the UCI's decision," he concluded.

The outfit suffered at the hand of event organizers in 2007, with many of the major race organizers moving to block its participation. Following the joy of being granted the final ProTour licence for this season in late 2006, the elation was quickly quashed when the Amaury Sport Organisation announced on January 13 the team wasn't welcome at the opening ProTour race of 2007, Paris-Nice.

ASO's announcement in January was the first in a string from the French organizer, whose portfolio of events included the Tour de France, with other race organizers soon joining the movement to exclude the squad. Despite a number of court cases in a last ditch bid to gain entry at several events the squad was entitled to start due to its ProTour status, the squad and its riders were ultimately forced to miss the majority of 2007's major races.

While the reason being put forward for the Swedish squad's snubbing was related to primarily French law forbidding the advertisement of online gambling in a country that has a state-owned monopoly on gambling, it's widely accepted that the team became a victim in the battle between the Grand Tour organizers and the UCI. This notion is supported by the fact that many organizers also refused's proposal to ride without the company's branding, instead offering to compete under the name – as it did at several events throughout the season.

Murcia to start in San Pedro

By Antonio J. Salmerón

The Vuelta a Murcia, which will take place on March 5-9, 2008, will start and finish in San Pedro del Pinatar, while the other stage start and finish destinations are still being finalized. "The first stage will start in San Pedro del Pinatar, where the third one will finish," event representative Francisco Gúzman told "The capital city of the region of Murcia will also be the end of the last stage."

Other details regarding the event's 2008 route are sketchy, however Gúzman did offer some insight into a possible climbing time trial. "We are now negotiating with some cities, so that we cannot say anything more on the subject, although we very much liked the climbing time trial between Alhama and Aledo," he said, referring to the stage won be Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) in 2007. "The Collado Bermejo climb is well known by many riders, but we are studying another similar final stage in order to find a solution to the traffic jam that always takes place after finishing the stage."

"The Club Murciano Organizador de Carreras is always concerned because there is a reasonable balance between the plain and mountainous terrain, especially when the season is just beginning," Gúzman explained.

In 2007, the Vuelta a Murcia had serious problems for completing its budget, especially in the absence of the its usual live television coverage. "We will have not any more of that, because the Vuelta a Murcia can also take place without TV, on the internet," said Gúzman. "We are working in order to make it possible to see it live on the internet." During this year's race people who visited were able to listen to interviews and watch the final stages, something the organizers plan on expanding for 2008.

"We are waiting for the participation of the best ProTour and Pro Continental squads, as always, because they will be always in the same hotel and the movements are short distance and very comfortable," Gúzman concluded.

Fuerteventura-Canarias struggling to find budget

The Fuerteventura-Canarias squad might not be back in 2008
Photo ©: Fuerteventura-Canarias
(Click for larger image)

Spanish cycling could be dealt a blow, with the management squad behind Fuerteventura-Canarias failing to gather the necessary budget to run the Professional Continental squad in 2008. While the squad's management company, Cyclingcomtat, is continuing the search for funding, the outlook for next season is bleak confirmed its director Óscar Guerrero.

"At the moment we have no news that says a different thing," explained Guerrero. "It would be a pity to end a great effort here."

The Spanish squad debuted last January and has achieved some good results, such as the seven stage victories in different races gained by young promising riders Oleg Chuzda (one) and Manuel Lloret (two) as well as those claimed by veteran riders Adrián Palomares (two) and Rodrigo García (two). Despite its success, Fuerteventura-Canarias wasn't offered a 'wild-card' entry into its home Grand Tour – the Vuelta a Espańa – this season.

Guerrero didn't seem convinced that the squad would be able to continue as a Continental outfit if it couldn't find the funding to operate as the higher ranked Professional Continental squad. "I don't know about that, but this squad was created to be Pro-Continental, so I do not think that it will be the best solution at the moment," he explained. AJS

Pros gather for big weekend in Noosa

Robbie McEwen (Predictor-Lotto) leads the men's field
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

The annual Noosa Triathlon Multi Sport Festival this weekend is set to be an even bigger festival than usual, with the announcement of the inaugural Cannibal Women's Grand Prix cycling event added to the carnival. As the event celebrates its 25th year, women's racing has been added to the 'hot dog' course, with the riders expected to take on 30 minutes plus three laps of racing this Saturday, November 3.

Contesting the race will be Olympic road race champion Sara Carrigan, AIS riders Alexis Rhodes and Lorian Graham and former triathletes turned professional cyclists Nikki Egyed (Raleigh Lifeforce Creation) and Josie Loane (AIS). The women will vie for some $5,000 in prize money at the weekend's event.

The men's criterium race will again feature at the famed triathlon event, with the star-studded field set to contest the Ridley's Dash for Cash, with a $50,000, winner takes all, prize on the line.

Contesting the men's event is three time winner of the prestigious green jersey in the Tour de France Robbie McEwen, defending champion and two time Noosa winner Allan Davis, 2003 Tour de France green jersey winner Baden Cooke, former Discovery Channel rider Matt White and Henk Vogels.

This year's Herald Sun Tour winner Matt Wilson is mounting a challenge for the massive cash prize and brining his team-mate Cooke as well as Briton Jeremy Hunt and Frenchman Jimmy Casper.

Vogels won't be the only Aussie export to America's National Racing Calendar teams on display this weekend. The likeable Vogels will be joined by Hilton Clarke, Ben Day and Trent Wilson in the one hour plus three lap event.

Kashechkin case not a public affair

Andrey Kashechkin (Astana)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

The professional cycling teams associations (the AIGCP and the IPCT) are of the opinion that the fight against doping should not be fought using public prosecution. This was clarified by the duo's lawyer, Jean-Louise Dupont, who announced that the AIGCP and the IPCT have served a request to the court in Ličge, Belgium. The AIGCP and the IPCT have resultantly placed themselves in the middle of the affair between the Kazakh Andrey Kashechkin and the UCI. Both associations want to clarify their standpoint and be involved in the case.

"Kashechkin's attorney [Luc Misson], finds that the fight against doping and the controls should only be fought using the public system and not that of a private institution," Dupont clarified.

The rider's organizations believe that the fight against doping should not be decided by only public powers. "The question is not if the fight should be undertaken by the state, a private institution – like the UCI or WADA – or the teams themselves, but rather if the rules and the sanctions are objective and well proportioned."

Dupont believes that the AIGCP, the IPCT and the cycling teams should be allowed to wager in on the debate. "Trust and honesty in the fight against doping is for professional cycling a question of life and death," he said.

The Kashechkin affair is due before the courts on November six in Ličge and Misson has based his defence on Article 8 of the Convention of Human Rights, which states that an infringement on the private life may only be dealt with through the public court. Misson believes that each blood sample taken, even within competition, is an infringement of a rider's private life. The control that has lead to the positive test of the former Astana rider on August 1 in a Turkish hotel, where he was on holidays, is an example of this infringement, according to Misson.

Lissavetzky: Complete Puerto investigation needed

A complete investigation into the Operación Puerto documents relating to the Spanish Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes must be undertaken, Spanish sports minister Jaime Lissavetzky told the Gazet van Antwerpen.

A Spanish judge publicly declared that the investigation into the affair should be closed in March this year. The public prosecutor opposed the decision at the time, but the Court of Occupation has remained tight lipped on its opinion. "I hope that the investigation gets right to the core of the problem," said Lissavetzky, who described doping as a "global problem, that needs to be fought".

The Puerto affair began in May 2006 when five people were arrested in Madrid. Among them was Dr. Fuentes, who had been team doctor for many different professional teams. In Fuentes' offices, police found hundreds of bags of blood, as well as illegal performance-enhancing products including EPO and growth hormone.

Pantani's mother wants new investigation

Tonina Pantani, mother of late professional cyclist Marco Pantani, has asked a new investigation be opened into her son's death, according to Sportwereld. The Italian winner of the 1998 Giro d'Italia and Tour de France died three years ago in a Rimini, Italy, hotel room after overdosing on cocaine. "The hour of his death is still not clear. There were other people present in his hotel room at the time," Tonina declared.

Giseppe Fortuni, a Doctor of Law in Bologna, said yesterday that "everything possible has been done according to the law", in regards to Pantani's death. The re-opening of the case by Tonina follows the release of a book on the life of the cyclist, which was written by French L'Equipe sports journalist Philippe Brunel.

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