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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for September 20, 2007

Edited by Ben Abrahams & Laura Weislo, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

Grand Tours out of the ProTour

After three years of disagreement, UCI president Pat McQuaid has said the governing body is ready to accept demands from Grand Tour organisers to no longer be part of the ProTour system. Changes to the ProTour calendar could be made as soon as next year after both parties agreed to resolve their ongoing feud by September 21.

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"We've sent proposals to the organisers of the three three-week Tours before September 21," McQuaid told AFP. "We have agreed to meet their demands which consist of no longer being part of the ProTour. We've been at loggerheads for the past three years, it can't go on." McQuaid had previously said he was prepared to negotiate technical aspects of the ProTour but was not prepared to scrap it altogether.

In a recent interview with Cyclingnews, Patrice Clerc, president of Tour de France organisers ASO (Amaury Sports Organisation) said: "Since the beginning, we don't want to be part of [the ProTour], and ask to find a different solution - they don't want to. Every time we found some acceptable common grounds, it was put in the trash. Now, if the UCI changes its opinions, its government, its direction - maybe then things could be different."

Having studied the UCI's latest proposals, which are thought to insist on promoting the ProTour series globally, Clerc told AFP: "They are extremely worrying as regards the future of cycling."

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split

October 4, 2008 - New ASO chief to maintain values
September 26, 2008 - UCI declares peace, appoints new VP
August 30, 2008 - UCI re-signs five ProTour races
August 22, 2008 - ProTour: Bouncing back or lame duck?
August 19, 2008 - Stapleton analyses 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - Feedback on 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - UCI announces 'world calendar'

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split

Bettini enjoys final day in rainbow

Bettini's evaluation of the sprint on Stage 17.
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Paolo Bettini faced a dilemma on Wednesday morning as the world champion had planned to quit the Vuelta after Stage 17 but wanted to show his rainbow jersey one last time, instead of the points jersey he was supposed to be wearing. Fortunately for Bettini, Vuelta boss Victor Cordero allowed the Italian his day in rainbow before he returns home to Madrid on Thursday morning to prepare for his world title defence in Stuttgart.

"I really wanted to wear this rainbow jersey one more time," Bettini said. "Victor Cordero understood how important wearing the rainbow jersey was for me and I was delighted to be able to wear it once more. I want to pass on my heartfelt thanks to him, the sponsors of the Vuelta and points jersey, all of the organisational staff, the UCI and the president of the jury."

Bettini wanted to honour the jersey by winning the stage, but fell just short, coming second to Lampre's Daniele Bennati who has been left off the Italian squad for Stuttgart. "I had some up and down moments during the race, separating myself from this jersey is a sufferance I can assure you," said Bettini. "Overall this year has been pretty special. My objective at the moment is to win back this jersey. Only those that have had the honour of winning this jersey can completely understand how it feels wearing it."

Jaksche suspended for one year

Jaksche at the Euskal Bizikleta in June.
Photo ©: Christine Grein
(Click for larger image)

Jörg Jaksche was handed a one year suspension by the Austrian cycling federation on Wednesday, having been found guilty of taking EPO and growth hormones, as well as having used blood doping. The suspension was backdated to run from July 2, 2007, the day Jaksche made his public confession to German magazine Speigel. Such violations usually carry a two year ban, but the federation applied the 'state's witness' regulation, which reduces the sentence when the suspect cooperates.

Jaksche's hearing, closed to the public at his request, was held by the anti-doping committee of the Österreichischer Radsport Verein (ÖRV) since the German resides in Kitzbuhel, Austria and therefore races under an Austrian licence. The 30 year-old has the right to appeal the suspension to the ÖRV's independent judiciary committee and ultimately to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The former Tinkoff Credit Systems rider was also required to pay 1,500 euro to cover the costs of the hearings.

Jaksche was the first rider implicated in Operación Puerto to publicly confess his involvement with Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. According to Austrian press agency APA, he repeated that confession on Wednesday but with more detail, and said he would make himself available as a witness to the World Anti-Doping Agency, the UCI and to justice officials.

His suspension must still be approved by the UCI. "When the UCI receives official notification, it will review the case and decide whether it accepts the decision," UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani told German press agency dpa.

Spanish federation seeks CAS intervention for Valverde case

The Spanish cycling federation, RFEC, has requested an independent ruling on the case of its rider, Alejandro Valverde, who the UCI seeks to exclude from next week's World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany.

"Today the RFEC has sent a letter to the UCI, requesting a reply within the next 24 hours, asking if they will accept mediation by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)" in relation to the ban of Valverde.

The UCI banned Valverde from the championships after it uncovered what it deemed new evidence sufficient to warrant a formal investigation against the rider in a 6,000 page dossier from the Operación Puerto doping case.

The UCI had requested that the RFEC open its own formal investigation, but the organisation refused, saying that it saw no new evidence. Valverde has repeatedly denied involvement in the case, which began when a clinic was raided in Madrid, uncovering bags of blood which were coded and thought to belong to over 100 athletes.

The Spanish judge in charge of the case shelved it after deciding that actions of the athletes who may have been banking their blood for performance enhancing purposes did not violate any Spanish law. Italy's Ivan Basso admitted earlier this year to having used the clinic's services with the intent to blood dope for the 2006 Tour de France.

The RFEC took the case to Madrid's Court of Investigation for a decision on whether it is legal for the UCI to use the dossier for disciplinary purposes against Valverde.

UCI president Pat McQuaid wrote to President of Spain's Superior Council of Sports (CSD) Jaime Lissavetzky stating that the UCI felt it had strong evidence in its hands, and that he felt that Spain was attempting to "hide information in the case".

The World Championships start in Stuttgart, Germany, on Sept. 26.

Cancellara, Thürig lead Swiss in Worlds

Reigning World Time Trial Champion Fabian Cancellara will lead the Swiss men's team in the World Championships next week in Stuttgart. The CSC rider will participate in the road race as well as defending his title in the time trial. The women's team will be led by Karin Thürig, who won the world time trial title in 2004 and 2005. Thürig , who recently won the Chrono Champenois in France, will also ride both the road and time trial races.

Swiss Cycling also announced the one-man Liechtenstein team: Dimitri Jirikov, who will ride the men's U23 time trial.

Men's time trial: Fabian Cancellara, Simon Zahner and Michael Schär
Men's road race: Fabian Cancellara, Beat Zberg and Martin Elmiger. Reserves: Gregory Rast and Florian Stalder.
Men's U23 time trial: Martin Kohler, Mathieu Deschenaux. Reserve: Mathias Frank.
Men's U23 road race: Martin Kohler, Mathias Frank, Danilo Wyss, Marcel Wyss and Elias Schmäh. Reserves: Mathieu Deschenaux and Laurent Beuret.
Women's time trial: Karin Thürig and Priska Doppmann. Reserves: Pascale Schnider.
Women's road race: Karin Thürig, Priska Doppmann, Sereina Trachsel, Nicole Brändle, Annette Beutler. (The last place will be decided after the Giro della Toscana Int. Femminile, either Jennifer Hohl or Patricia Schwager.)

Spanish announce Worlds TT selections

Francisco Antequera, the Spanish national selector, announced on Wednesday the Spanish squad for time trials at the World Road Championships. The men's elite time trial will be contested by Spanish time trial champion José Iván Gutiérrez and Luis León Sánchez (both Caisse d'Epargne).

Gutiérrez will try to win his first world title after being Spanish champion four times and finishing second at the Worlds in 2005 to Aussie Michael Rogers. Young Luis León Sánchez was chosen out of three riders, himself, Santos González (Karpin Galicia) and Iker Camaño (Saunier Duval).

Antequera explained that his selection was difficult, as none of the three selected riders performed well during the individual time trial on Stage 8 of the Vuelta. "Even if [Sánchez] and myself know that he is not in his best form because he had to work for his team at the Vuelta, he is the best selection because he is a specialist with a bright future," said Antequera. "It's evident that he won't win this year, but the experience will benefit him for future World Championships."

The riders who will contest the under 23 time trial are Rafa Serrano and Sergio Domínguez while the women's selection is Maribel Moreno and Marta Vilajosana. The team will travel from Barcelona to Stuttgart on Monday. The time trial competitions will be held on Wednesday and Thursday.

Courtesy of Monika Prell

Gerdemann to skip Worlds

Tour de France stage winner Linus Gerdemann has taken himself off the German team for the upcoming World Road Championships having recently been to withdraw from the Tour of Britain suffering stomach problems.

"It wasn't an easy decision to make," Gerdemann said on his team's website, "I was really looking forward to racing the Worlds on home turf, but right now I feel that I am not in the right physical shape to help the team. You need to be in top form for a race like that - and I don't have that kind of form."

He did not make the decision alone, but first consulted team manager Bob Stapleton and sport director Rolf Aldag, both of whom supported his decision. "After riding the Tour de France and the Deutschland-Tour, Linus is no longer in good enough form and the stomach problems come on top of that," said Aldag. "So it is only fair now that he scratches his start and lets someone else take his place in the team."

Boonen still uncertain

With just over a week remaining before the elite men's road race in Stuttgart, Belgium's Tom Boonen is still deciding whether the injuries sustained in the Vuelta will allow him to take the start. According to a press release issued by Boonen's Quick.Step - Innergetic team, Boonen trained for almost four hours on Wednesday and will make a final decision after another long ride on Thursday.

"My back didn't give me any trouble," said Boonen of the ride. "But I still have a few problems with my right knee as consequence of Zaragoza's crash. Tomorrow I'll be doing another long training session after which I'll be able to see my condition with respect to my participation at the World Championships."

End of the Guerini era at T-Mobile

By Susan Westemeyer

Time for a few drinks...
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

It was the end of an era in magenta on Wednesday as Giuseppe Guerini did not start the 17th stage of the Vuelta a España due to illness, thus putting an end to his 15-year career. He had been with T-Mobile Team/Team Telekom since 1999, longer than any other rider currently with the team.

The 37 year-old announced last month that he would stop riding after the Vuelta. His career highlights include two Tour de France stage wins and two second-place finishes in the Giro d'Italia.

While the Bergamo native has started 19 Grand Tours, he has never finished the Vuelta, which he started four times. "I have no real feelings for the Vuelta," he told Cyclingnews in a January interview. "I like the Giro a lot because it was the first big win of my career, and I love the Tour now, so normally at the end of the season, I always feel very tired."

His team and his sponsor paid tribute to him, as a man and as a rider. "Giuseppe Guerini is one of the most pleasant riders in the team history," Christian Frommert, director of sponsoring communications for sponsor Deutsche Telekom told Cyclingnews. "He was always a good representative, both on and off the bike. He is a real gentleman and we really wish him all the best for his private life and his career after his cycling career."

Rolf Aldag was Guerini's teammate for many years and also worked with him as the team's sport director this season. "And so ends a great career," Aldag said on the team's website, "I have always appreciated Giuseppe very much. He is very friendly and a real team player. I hope that he enjoys the time with his family and his life after his riding career."

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