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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for September 21, 2007

Edited by Gregor Brown

Valverde's defence optimistic

By Antonio J. Salmerón

'The Green Bullet' – Valverde
Photo ©: Régis Garnier
(Click for larger image)

Alejandro Valverde's legal representative is prepared for the hearing with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Wednesday, September 26, only four days before the World Championships where the Spanish cyclist hopes to compete. The International Cycling Union (UCI) claims Valverde is heavily linked to Operación Puerto, and, therefore, should not be allowed to start in its race. Yesterday, the UCI accepted the proposal from the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC), who backs its cyclist, for mediation by the CAS.

José Rodriguez, Valverde's Lawyer, confirmed to Cyclingnews that his client will not be required to be at the CAS hearing. "Alejandro Valverde plays a procedural role, which does not entail that he must be present.

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"It is a very complicated subject," continued Rodriguez on the case. "This is why we do not want to be very optimistic, but neither pessimistic." He pointed out that the his defence documentation to be presented to the CAS "is very convincing and with a strong support."

The list of riders to compete in the World Championships was released by the UCI on Wednesday. Valverde's name did not appear "like we had hoped." Rodriguez noted that there are other riders that were presumably implicated in Puerto that are able to race the Worlds, and riders, like German Erik Zabel, who admitted to having used EPO (Erythropoietin) the 1990s.

Davis fights to save Worlds spot

Allan Davis (Discovery Channel)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Australian Allan Davis responded to the UCI's request to Cycling Australia to leave him off the team for the World Championships. Cycling Australia rejected the request, which came one day before the deadline for entries into the race, to remove Davis because of purported links between the rider and Operación Puerto. Despite Cycling Australia's support, Davis is not on the offical list of entrants published by the UCI.

Davis was part of the Liberty Seguros squad run by Manolo Saiz, but denied involvement in the doping affair. He was under investigation due to his links with Saiz, but the case was dropped by the Australian Antidoping Authority in December, 2006, citing insufficient evidence. In his statement, Davis said that he "never breached the UCI Anti- Doping Code, has not been charged with any breach of the code and that I am not the subject of any open investigation into a breach of the Anti-Doping Code".

Davis continued, saying, "I have cooperated fully with the authorities and have vigorously pursued all avenues possible in a bid to clear my name. On July 28, 2006, I released a written statement offering to provide a sample of my DNA and to comply with any other request that might be made by authorities in order to clear my name.

"In July 2006, and on several occasions since, including as recently as this week, myself and people acting on my behalf have been in contact with UCI officials seeking their guidance and advice as to what I need to do to clear my name," said Davis, who described repeated attempts to offer up his DNA in order to clear himself.

"On September 20, 2007 I sent by registered facsimile to the Court of Instruction in Madrid an offer to supply my DNA and to undergo any other testing they might require. I have sent a copy of this fax to the UCI, my professional team and Cycling Australia. I have been and continue to be willing to cooperate with the authorities in relation to this matter and am confused as to how I can be required to be acquitted when I have not been charged and there is no case against me which I can challenge."

Davis, who signed the UCI's antidoping agreement this summer declared, "I feel I have done everything I can to clear my name and feel I am being unjustly targetted and implore the UCI to tell me what else I must do to satisfy them I am innocent and I will do it."

Mosquera impresses

By Antonio J. Salmerón

'EZ' Ezequiel Mosquera
Photo ©: Unipublic
(Click for larger image)

Ezequiel Mosquera (Karpin Galicia) is one of the great surprises in the 62nd Vuelta a España. The 31 year-old rider was impressed that the general classification men came out fighting so early in yesterday's stage 18, and he is prepared to battle for his overall position as the race continues for Madrid.

"I did not think that an attack was going to happen so early, and one in which all the podium candidates were involved," said Mosquera, currently sixth overall, to Cyclingnews. "Sastre attacked, but Menchov reacted quickly, and also the others, but not [Manuel] Beltrán and [Vladimir] Efimkin. All of that surprised me.

"The Mijares climb was a very hard. It was very difficult to hold Menchov's wheel.

"Now, Efimkin is only eight seconds behind me, so I will try to have a strong performance in Abantos climb [today]. Although, he is better than me in the time trial," Mosquera concluded.

Zandio celebrates birth of June

By Monika Prell

Xabier Zandio of Caisse d'Epargne had reason to be happy at the start of the 18th stage of the Vuelta a España, his wife Ainhoa gave birth to their second child, a baby girl named June. The little girl weighed in at 3700 grams. Now Zandio, active in this year's edition of the Vuelta for leaders Vladimir Efimkin and Vladimir Karpets, will surely be keen on finishing the Vuelta to go back to his family.

Cofidis creates pro track team

By Hedwig Kröner

French online credit company Cofidis has launched the first French professional track cycling team this week. Although the group will be small with only four riders, they are of high value: sprinters Arnaud Tournant, Mickael Bourgain, Kivin Sireau and up-and-coming talent Didier Henriette. They will all focus on the team's primary objective: the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Cofidis, whose former president François Migraine has been sponsoring French track cyclists for over ten years, hopes to raise the image of the brand at the Olympics, but also at the four World Cup events of the 2007-2008 season. "With a maximum of riders at each World Cup event, we will increase the overall level," sports director Benoît Vêtu told L'Equipe.

"It will be the first time that we can test them all at once. And we will also increase our chances of the maximum number of riders for the Olympics," he added. Indeed, the greater the amount of French riders in the World Cup events, the greater will be the chances of France scoring enough points to send the maximum of four sprinters to Beijing next year.

All of them have signed a one-year contract at this time.

Contador searches for strong squad

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Alberto Contador in the Tour de France
Photo ©:
(Click for larger image)

2007 Tour de France winner Alberto Contador was present at the stage finish of yesterday's Vuelta a España. The 24 year-old is looking for a team, as his current team, Discovery Channel, is folding it operations at the end of the season.

"I would like to come to the Vuelta, but to win it," remarked the Spaniard to TVE yesterday in Ávila. "When I go to a race it is always for doing as well as possible, and for winning, because I always think about the victory."

The Spaniard has not yet selected a team for 2008 and beyond. "I will consider several factors, not only the economic ones, before deciding my new team. ... I have good offers in an economic sense, but it is necessary to consider other important aspects. Such as if [the team] is a strong one, and it offers guarantees to you."

Discovery Sports Manager Johan Bruyneel has been linked to Team Astana. Contador likes the idea of continuing with his Belgian boss, "it is good, and I would like to go with him," but clarified that "there are other factors to consider. I prefer a team in which he [Bruyneel - ed.] has freedom, and with strong riders."

Contador is enjoying watching his home tour on TV, and savouring his Tour de France victory. "I thought that winning the Tour would not change that much," he commented. "Now, they invite to me in the bars for coffee. Everybody knows me, and people greet me in the street."

Willems an eager replacement for Worlds

Frederik Willems (Liquigas)
Photo ©: Mark Stemmy
(Click for larger image)

Tom Boonen's bad luck is good news for Frederik Willems, who is taking the injured sprinter's place on the Belgian World Championships team. "I am glad to go," the Liquigas rider told Sporza. "It's too bad for Tom, but I am very happy nevertheless to pack my suitcase."

Willems knew that he would be called on if Boonen's injured knee didn't improve, but wasn't sure until this week that he would go to Stuttgart. "I prepared for the World's anyway. I kept myself ready the whole time. I rode longer training rides."

Now that he knows he will ride the road race, September 30, he can train specifically for it. "I do not yet know the Worlds parcours, but I am certainly not the only one," he said. "At home I have detailed graphics of the course. And in Stuttgart itself I can take a look at it. But on such a difficult course, you just have to have a super day."

His favourites for the race? Oscar Freire or Paolo Bettini, but "of course I would like to see a fellow countryman on the podium with the rainbow jersey."

Jeanson confesses to EPO use

Former Canadian cyclist Geneviève Jeanson has confessed to having doping. "I did doping in my career," she said in an interview with Radio-Canada. Jeanson, 26, was found guilty in January of having used EPO and was banned for two years.

She said that the doping and cheating made her life a nightmare. "I hated everything," she said. "I hated myself for doing it. I hated myself not being able to get out of it. It was miserable."

Jeanson placed the blame on Andre Aubut, who became her coach when she was 15. He was the one who introduced her to EPO. "I didn't really want to do it," she continued. "However, I did not have the courage to say no, so I just didn't say anything." Aubut initially confirmed the story to the radio station, but later denied it, according to

After the suspension was announced, Jeanson continued to deny the charges. She now says, "It was not Geneviève that lied. It was someone else I did not know. It was something I was told to do and yes, I do regret it."

She has moved to Phoenix, Arizona, and says she has no immediate plans to return to Canada.

World's longest one-day race nearing

Paul Verkuylen

The Melbourne to Warrnambool is Australia's oldest classic, and at 300 kilometres in length also one of the toughest. This October 27 will see the 112th running of the world's longest bike race, which is some six kilometres longer than the famous Italian Classic, Milano-Sanremo.

This year's event will see the cream of the Australian domestic scene as well as some of the worlds best professionals take to the start in Sanctuary Lakes. They will race through 30 towns in the Victorian countryside on their way to the finish on the Raglan Parade in Warrnambool, chasing the $17,000 in prize money.

Last year's event saw the Drapac Porsche team enter the finale with two riders in the break, Stuart Shaw and the 1992 Barcelona Olympian Rob McLachlan. These two took it in turns to attack their companions, including Kjell Carlström (Liquigas), until 35 year-old McLachlan was able to break free, soloing to victory ahead of David Pell.

In the past 'the Warny' has seen some of Australia's best showcase their talents before moving onto bigger things. In 2004 during his first season in the under 23 ranks, William Walker won the event, before going the Rabobank development team the following year. The 2003 edition was won by another ex-under 23 Australian champion, Simon Gerrans. He was then riding for the Norwegian team Ringerike, and soon went on to race a season for the French Amateur team Nantes, where he was able to secure a contract the following year with Ag2r Prévoyance.

The race became a reality after a bet, which involved 25 riders cycling the then horrible road known as the Princess Highway. Originally run as a handicap event, the race would typically come down to the wire as the scratch bunch tried its hardest to reel-in all those in front of them. Dean Woods holds the record for the fastest time in the event, when in 1990 he covered the then 275-kilometre course in 5:12'26".

This year the event again holds a UCI 1.2-classification, ensuring that the great race will uphold its tradition with the Australian cycling community as well as adding to the increasing popularity for many international competitors.

World's most scenic bicycle challenge

The inaugural running of the Great Ocean Road Ride will take place one day after the 112th Melbourne to Warrnambool classic. The event will comprise of three separate challenges for participants, all taking place along the Great Ocean Road: the 71-kilometre Malvern Star challenge from Warrnambool to Port Campbell, the Apostles Ride, which takes riders over 120 kilometres, from Warrnambool to Lavers Hill, and the Ride Of Your Life, 168 kilometres, from Warrnambool to Apollo Bay.

The events kicks off at 9:00 on Sunday, October 28, and costs are $55 for adults and $25 for kids under 16, with part of each entry being donated to the Amy Gillett Foundation. Entries must be received by October 15. There will be a variety of prizes up for grabs, including a one week's mobile home hire, four Malvern star bikes and Rosebank helmet. For more information on the event, see the official website.

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