Latest Cycling News for September 26, 2007
Edited by Bjorn Haake
World Champ Bettini signed DNA agreement
By Gregor Brown in Stuttgart
Riders taking part in the World Championships are being required to sign an agreement similar to the one that was proposed prior to the Tour de France. 2006 Road World Champion Paolo Bettini came under fire from International Cycling Union (UCI) President Pat McQuaid yesterday for refusing to sign the pre-Worlds agreement.
Quick.Step - Innergetic Press Officer Alessandro Tegner explained to Cyclingnews that the Italian, who did not take part in the Tour, had signed a DNA agreement document on July fifth. "He agreed with all the ethical parts of the UCI charter; he agreed with the DNA testing," said Tegner this morning. The issue was in regards to the legal aspects of the UCI's charter, such as asking for a rider's salary if he was found positive. Bettini believed that many factors could play into a rider's positive result, and that the rider should not be automatically be stripped of his wages. (For information on the pre-Tour UCI charter read UCI demands ProTour riders' signatures on anti-doping agreement for Tour participation.)
In the mailed document "he agreed with DNA testing to be used in Operación Puerto and in future investigations." Bettini received an email that the document was refused on July 13 from UCI ProTour Manager Alan Rumpf.
"With an e-mail they told me that my document was a vision of a legal studio and, for formal reasons, or one reason or another, it was refused," said Bettini to La Gazzetta dello Sport. The UCI document "is a legal document, not a voluntary paper, so I did well to make use of a representative. The UCI had hoped for another big event to create trouble. It is always like this."
Bettini did not take part in the Tour de France but he did line up for the Deutschland Tour, a ProTour event. At first the organizers did not allow him to start according to Tegner, however when Bettini presented his legal document that was mailed to the UCI it allowed him to race. This was also the case for the ProTour's Hamburg Cyclassics.
McQuaid clarified to Cyclingnews this morning that two different documents were signed. "He had signed two different pledges, one was a completely different document [to the riders' agreement of June] and the second one was an altered version of that document," said McQuaid to Shane Stokes. "We have been in communication with him about both of them, and the last communication about that was when Alan [Rumpf] sent him an e-mail on July 13. He never responded to that."
McQuaid indicated that the UCI requires Bettini to sign a proper version of the document.
Davis to appeal to CAS, McQuaid doubts start is possible
By Shane Stokes in Stuttgart
As is the case with Alejandro Valverde, Australian rider Allan Davis finds himself in the situation where his national federation has been told by the UCI that he is not welcome to ride the world championships due to alleged implication in Operación Puerto.
Valverde’s case will be held by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Wednesday, and the decision will determine if the Spaniard can line out in the Elite men’s road race on Sunday.
Davis maintains his innocence and has decided to go the same route. Cycling Australia confirmed on Wednesday morning that he will lodge an application early on Thursday for an urgent hearing. He hopes that this will take place on Friday with a decision later on that day.
“We are pleased that the matter is going to arbitration and we are hopeful that there will be a closure on this case that has been unreasonably prolonged,” said Cycling Australia communications director Gennie Sheer. “Allan is today doing final training for Sunday and he is optimistic that he will be lining up there.”
Meanwhile UCI President Pat McQuaid said that he doubts that the late appeal will resolve the issue.
“I can’t see how he will do that [successfully appeal], because first of all he can't go to CAS alone, he has to go through the UCI. And we have heard nothing from him so far.
“He won't do it in 24 hours, either, because last week the process [with Alejandro Valverde] was that we agreed with the Spanish to go to CAS and then the Spanish had two days in which to file their papers with us. We then had two days to prepare our papers and file all the papers to CAS. Then, two days later, CAS rules on it. So I can't see it coming before the weekend.”
Davis has been cleared by Cycling Australia, who have said there is no basis for an investigation. McQuaid differs on that. “We feel that there was enough evidence to justify it. The case was never officially closed by the UCI.”
Di Luca may be out of the Worlds
Di Luca is still under investigation in the Oil for Drugs program and it may spell an early end to his hopes of riding in the road race on Sunday, in Stuttgart. While Bettini will very likely ride the event, even though he didn't sign the UCI declaration ahead of the World Championships in Stuttgart, Di Luca may have to watch the race on TV on Sunday.
Italian sports paper La Gazzetta dello Sport reported that the antidoping section of CONI, the national Olympic committee of Italy, is meeting today. The head of the anti-doping section, Ettore Torri, has already stated on August 22 that Di Luca should not be in the Worlds.
The Oil for Drug investigation identified Di Luca as a client of the doctor Carlo Santuccione. Since he is not a doctor approved by the cycling federation, this carries a stop of competition for three months, which will put Di Luca at risk of not riding Sunday, and effectively end his season.
UCI happy with Worlds buildup
By Shane Stokes
The first events in the 2007 world road race championships take place on Wednesday, with the running of the under 23 men time trial alreaduy concluded and the elite women time trial happening in the afternon. So far, the UCI says it is happy with the build-up.
“I think that the organisation is super; we are very happy with it and with everything that has been put in place by the local committee,” said Pat McQuaid on Wednesday morning. “The weather seems to be holding up…the forecast was bad for today but it is doing fine so far.”
He hasn’t yet seen the full road and time trial courses but thinks that the races will ensure a worthy winner. “I think it is a hard finish. From what I can see, if a group comes to finish together, it would want to be a very intelligent rider to time the sprint perfectly. It is an uphill finish after 250 kilometres, and at that point it will be like going up a mountain.”
The elite men’s time trial follows on Thursday. Saturday sees the road races for the under 23 men and the elite women take place, then the elite men will clash in their big showdown one day later.
ASO vs. UCI - quo vadis, cycling?
By Hedwig Kröner
At the end of last week, the International Cycling Union made a new proposal to the organisers of the Grand Tours with respect to their ongoing feud over the ProTour. In the media, it was reported that the UCI offered to let the races of the three organisers leave the calendar that replaced the World Cup - to be placed within various other calendars, some of which would have to be created.
Now, what exactly was proposed by the UCI? The current ProTour races would be part of the 'world calendar' together with the Tour de France. Nevertheless, the greatest of the Grand Tours would still have to accept all ProTour teams in the race, which is one of the biggest problems ASO has with the proposition. "The Tour de France would be forced to follow the participation rules of the ProTour and forced to use this closed system the ASO is not in agreement with," a communiqué issued on September 22 stated, referring to the fact that access to the ProTour is granted on financial rather than sporting grounds, and that shifting from Professional Continental to the ProTour calendar is not possible by sporting merit.
Also, the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España would be 'downgraded' into a new category of the European calendar, together with Milano-Sanremo, Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Giro di Lombardia. These events could then control their team participation themselves and choose between ProTour, Professional Continental and Continental teams, as long as the squads competing in those last two categories have been issued a wild-card label by the UCI (based on ethical criteria amongst others).
As to the remaining races organised by ASO, RCS Sport and Unipublic (Flèche Wallonne, Paris-Nice, Tirreno Adriatico, Paris-Tours), they would be placed on the European calendar and could invite 'only' 50 percent of the current ProTour teams - which could become a problem for the teams in their season planning. "ASO deems these proposals to be harmful and unacceptable for the concerned events and, more in general, for the interest of cycling," the communiqué continued.
Besides ASO's will to hand-pick the participating teams for the Tour de France to avoid more doping affairs in the future, the French organising company does not want to be separated from the organisers of the Giro and the Vuelta. The three groups have been united against the UCI from the very beginning of the conflict three years ago. Moreover, seeing their other prestigious events like Paris-Roubaix or Milano-Sanremo downgraded on the European calendar, suddenly becoming inferior to newer races like the Tour of Poland, also challenges the organisers' pride.
This week, the UCI wants to introduce the changes to its calendar at the Congress of its Management Committee and the meeting of the ProTour Council. But what will be the reaction of the teams? With the announcement of the new "Tour of America" (see below) and the possibility of the Tour Down Under and the Tour of California integrating the ProTour next year, effectively globalising the sport more and more, a schism between the historical monuments of cycling and its internationalisation seems inevitable. Maybe some answers to the raised questions will become public at the World Championships in Stuttgart, which start today.
Moving on up
Great Britain's Emma Pooley is a fresh, new and successful presence in women's cycling. In only her first professional year, Pooley claimed third at the Grande Boucle Féminine, sixth at the Albstadt Frauen Etappenrennen and fifth in the Thüringen Rundfahrt. To crown off her successful season, she will ride both the time trial and road race for Britain in the World Championships. Cyclingnews' Susan Westemeyer caught up with her in Stuttgart, Germany.
Emma Pooley is 25 and in her first professional season with Specialized Designs for Women squad, a small Swiss team sponsored by the American bike manufacturer. The Briton has been involved in organised sports for years, starting with tri- and duathlons. Such was her duathlon ability that she was World Champion in her age group, a title she plays down saying, "I only beat about eight other people in my age group". Pooley never made it to the elite level, she says, because her running was simply not good enough. Duathlon consists of running-cycling-running, and she soon discovered that if her running wasn't good enough that cycling was a good career path to take.
While still studying at Cambridge University, Pooley switched to cycling. She did some races as training, came in a surprising fourth in the 2005 British nationals and decided to drop running in favour of cycling. "It was a very rapid learning curve," observed Pooley. She even went to the 2005 World Championships, but crashed out and had an equally as memorable experience at the event last year. Pooley isn't yet a fulltime cyclist, she is currently completing research part time in the engineering field for her Ph.D.
Since Pooley only started racing two years ago she is still a little nervous in the peloton. Not that Pooley worries about her bike-handling skills, she quickly pointed out, but because she worries about the others around here. "I'm still not brilliant at getting up to the front by coming through the middle of the pack," Pooley admitted. "I've been brought down enough by other people that I don't like being stuck at the back. I get nervous about crashing or getting stuck at the back at the wrong time. "I will never do as well on flat terrain or downhill. I like climbing!"
On those occasions that Pooley successfully navigates her way to the front she's proven to be a force to be reckoned with. In the third stage of this year's Thüringen Rundfahrt, Pooley took off from the peloton at kilometre 40, on a short but steep climb and then was on her own for nearly three hours. She built up a lead of up to 12 minutes, and arrived at the finish line with a comfortable lead of 4 minutes 46 seconds. This gave her the overall lead, placed her at the head of both the sprint and mountain rankings, as well as the day's most aggressive rider award.
You can read the full interview here.
Valverde cleared by Puerto judge
A mere 24 hours before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland, will decide if Spain's Alejandro Valverde's can start the road race on Sunday, the Spanish judge dealing with Operación Puerto has cleared the Caisse d'Epargne rider of any implication.
Spanish sports paper Marca reported on Tuesday the judge, Antonio Serrano, issued a legal certificate stating that Valverde is not implicated in Puerto. This certificate contradicted the request of the lawyers for the UCI, who asked the Spanish cycling federation to open a case against Valverde, based on the evidence seized in the matter.
Serrano declared that the Spanish rider will be innocent until proven guilty, while the UCI maintained that the fact there is an open investigation will prevent Valverde from participating in Sunday's road race. The certification is expected to have heavy influence on the CAS ruling.
The Spanish Minister of Sport, Jaime Lissavetzky, fully backs Valverde and UCI president Pat McQuaid declared that this was an indication of the stand the Spanish have on doping.
Given Serrano's position in Operación Puerto, his certificate may well carry much more weight with the Swiss Court of Arbitration for Sport than the Spanish Federation's simple refusal to go down the UCI road. According to Marca, the certificate will be presented on Wednesday in Lausanne together with a Spanish police document also confirming that Valverde does not appear in the Puerto documents.
In the power struggle between the UCI and the Spanish Cycling Federation, the UCI have received the support of the World Anti-Doping Agency - rarely an ally of cycling's governing body - in their case against Valverde. At the same time, UCI president Pat McQuaid has said, according to agency reports, that “the biggest problem we have in doping and cycling comes from Spain.” McQuaid argued that Spanish Minister of Sport Jaime Lissavetzky's continued support of Valverde was “indicative” of Spain's position on doping. "It is all very well bringing in laws, but you need to bring action after that.” McQuaid told the Associated Press news agency.
Leukemans doing better again
Björn Leukemans, who was not participating in the Worlds due to health problems, is definitely doing better. He finished fifth yesterday in the 75th Textielprijs Vichte in Belgium. Iljo Keisse won the race in a small sprint of a seven-man break. The race was very fast and Keisse won the 158-kilometre race in three hours and twenty minutes, at an average speed of 47.4 km/h.
Canada fights on
Despite the bad luck of having nine bikes stolen just before the start of the World Championships in Stuttgart, Canada is getting ready with replacement bikes.Anne Samplonius of Montreal, who competes on opening day today, is vying for a top-10 finish in the women's time trial. "The goal is to obtain an additional spot for the Olympic Games," said Kris Westwood, high performance director for the Canadian Cycling Association. "Our goal in the men's time trial is top 15. It won't be easy but we can do it." Top hopes for the men are the interesting Svein Tuft and Ryder Hesjedal.
The time trial course has no flat sections. "It's a grinding course," said Westwood. "There are some technically-challenging turn. There's a lot of variety. The winner will be good, not lucky. The guys really liked it."
For the road race, Westwood won't announce the Canadian goals. "It's just so unpredictable," he said. "In the women’s elite race, we should start seeing some action at the end of the race. Everyone will be vigilant. Our goal will be to keep Erinne Willock (Victoria) and Alex Wrubleski (Regina) in the best possible position until the end."
The men's race should be fast from the start. "The teams will have to be ready for a breakaway early because no one will be able to dictate the race."
The women participating for Canada are in the road race Erinne Willock and Leigh Hobson. Alex Wrubleski and Anne Samplonius will be doing both, the road race and the time trial.
The U23 will consist of Keven Lacombe, Brad Fairall and Ryan Anderson in the road race and the double event rider David Veilleux, who will do both road race and time trial.
The men's elite team is comprised of time trialers Svein Tuft and Ryder Hesjedal. Tuft will also join the other road racers Cam Evans and Dominique Rollin on Sunday for the main event.
The Tour of America
The success of the recent stage races in California, Georgia and Missouri have sparked interest to step it up a notch and organize a Tour of America. The plan is to easily beat any of the current Grand Tours (Giro, Tour, Vuelta) in length or prize money. The riders will have 30 days to cover the more than 6,000 kilometres. The purse is expected to be around 11 million dollar. The race is expected to go from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.
Aqu, Inc will hold a press conference at Interbike to announce more details. The media event will be on Thursday, September 27, at 15:00 PDT in the Sands Convention Center. Unlike the current events, which are held within one state, the Tour of America will cross approximately 22 states and hundreds of cities along the way.
Aqu, Inc. President Frank Arokiasamy said that "We are excited to finally bring one of the world's largest spectator sports to the United States through a major international competition."
Eddy Merckx joins list of unwelcome people in Stuttgart
The organizers of the Worlds in Stuttgart are shrinking the list of people they officially welcome by the minute. Already the previous ambassadors for the Worlds, Erik Zabel and Rudi Altig, were asked to step down. Later it was Gregor Braun who stepped down. The winner of the last Worlds in Stuttgart, in 1991, was also not invited. And now the organizers announced that Belgian legend Eddy Merckx is not welcome, either.
The organisers said that "we have to be a role model," while Merckx found the organizers to be crazy, as Sporza reported on its web site. He bluntly added that "dumb people are everywhere, even in Germany."
New Zealand faces challenge on "brutal course"
There are two big climbs on each lap of the course in Stuttgart, which Bike New Zealand road coach Jacques Landry rated in the top ten of the toughest ever for world championships.
The New Zealand team will have two riders, Sam Bewley and Clinton Avery, in the opening U23 men's time trial. Clinton Avery, Sam Bewley, Alex Meenhorst and Michael Torckler will contest the road race.
Most attention will focus on the six-strong women's team that takes part in the 134-kilometre road race on Saturday, where Canterbury rider Jo Kiesanowski is the best chance of success. "Jo will be the rider we will be looking to support and protect – and see if the team can work her up into a position to challenge later in the race," Landry said. The dark horse may be Rosara Joseph who makes her debut after a brilliant fifth placing in the recent mountain bike world championships.
Currently the women are ranked 17th in the world and if they can work their way in to the top 15 by June next year, they will secure another spot for Beijing. The rest of the team is comprised of Toni Bradshaw, Michelle Hyland and Carissa Wilkes.
The men's team are without national champion Julian Dean and former world points race champion Greg Henderson, both recovering from injury. The three strong men's team includes European-based professionals Glen Chadwick and Jeremy Vennell along with Ashburton's Hayden Roulston.
"It's going to be a big job for the men. It is a very tough race with 14 laps and 267 kilometres of hard riding and it will perhaps be a case of survival and see if we can launch someone into the top 30." National champion Chadwick joins Gordon McCauley to contest the time trial.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2007)