First Edition Cycling News for September 28, 2007
Edited by Laura Weislo
Cancellara caps off a satisfying year
By Gregor Brown in Stuttgart, Germany
Fabian Cancellara claimed gold for the second consecutive year on Thursday, conquering the World Championship Time Trial in Stuttgart, Germany. The 26 year-old rose above damp weather and a daunting course to scorch the 44.9 kilometre course, 52 seconds faster than his nearest competitor, Hungarian Laszlo Bodrogi.
"This year was more difficult because the pressure was higher, the course was harder - but in the end I gave it all I had and everything worked out fine. I'm very happy. Last year was hard, I thought that I was not in the same condition, but I did all that was possible. My goal was to defend my title. For sure, tonight, we are going to drink a glass of champagne, or more!"
Heavy rains dampened the course early Thursday morning, soaking the first competitors who started nearly three hours before Cancellara would head down the start ramp to defend his title. But by the time the first wave of riders had come to the finish, the rain had stopped and the roads began to dry.
"I saw it was raining this morning. I had in mind the stage this year's Tour's TT stage in Albi, when I crashed," Cancellara recalled that wet day in France when he hit the deck on a slick descent to Ambialet. "I knew I did not want to crash." Being the reigning champion and starting last gave the Swiss rider an advantage. "I took a fast start and it was important to have the times of the other riders. My team manager gave me good information."
Cancellara dominated every time check on the way to the finish. He hit time check one at kilometre 8.39 with nine seconds over Dutchman Stef Clement. The trend continued at the midway point (the end of the first of two circuits), where his lead reached 19 seconds and again at the 31.12 kilometre check the advantage was 22 seconds.
He may have been going faster and faster compared to his competition, but he was concentrating on keeping the rubber side of his bike down. "The part that made me nervous was thinking how I absolutely wanted to avoid crashing today," he said. Cancellara's compatriot Simon Zahner started the day when the rain had only just stopped, while the men in the fourth of four start groups benefited from the drier roads. "The riders who started in the beginning were not at an advantage," he acknowledged. "For sure they did not have the best conditions, but many times I have also had this same bad luck."
Cancellara's 2006 season, which included a win in Paris-Roubaix, was capped off with his first World Championships Time Trial win in Salzburg, Austria on September 21. While he did not repeat in Paris-Roubaix this year, he went one better, taking the Tour de France's opening prologue win and going on to wear the coveted leader's jersey for the next eight days before taking another stage win in the départ town of the Paris-Roubaix, Compiègne.
Cancellara had a hard time finding motivation after the Tour de France finished. "After the Tour I did three days of the Tour of Germany, and my head was totally blocked," he noted. "I needed a break, I took nearly ten days. It was something that was necessary because this season was so long. I was racing hard from the Giro d'Italia until the Tour de France and this was a long, long way."
In order to fine-tune his engine in preparation for the World Championships, Cancellara turned to motor-pacing and shorter races. "I didn't do the Tour of Spain this year and the season was different. But in the end I was really lucky, I was in [the Tour of] Poland and we had good weather. I worked pretty well there and then in the last 10 days I did motor-paced training every day. I never went out alone because I thought that maybe it would be more difficult because my head was already tired and the year was so long."
If last year was the best year of his life with Roubaix victory, becoming a husband and dad, then this year would have to be considered satisfying as well. "I am nearly at the end of the season, and I am pretty satisfied with everything I did up until now. I will take a break and then really look forward to next year."
ProTour heads Down Under
By Shane Stokes in Stuttgart, Germany
The first non-European ProTour event status has been awarded to the the Tour Down Under in Adelaide, Australia the UCI announced on Thursday. The South Australian race will kick off the 2008 ProTour calendar on January 22. With the exclusion of the Grand Tours from the ProTour calendar, the UCI will now focus more efforts globally, and the Australian race is the first beneficiary of the new direction for the series.
UCI president Pat McQuaid praised the Australians for growing the race to a state worthy of the ProTour, "The race has had huge support from the cycling community over the past few years. I have been there myself on two occasions, and I know the team of people who are behind it, from South Australian Premier Mike Rann and the race director Mike Turtur and the team.
"They do a wonderful job," said McQuaid to Cyclingnews. "They deserve this, the event deserves this. Australian cycling deserves this and the sport of cycling deserves this."
McQuaid promised the ProTour teams would be there, despite the resources required to support a team traveling to a major Tour in Australia. "That is part of the rules. They follow the rules, and I anticipate they will all be there."
The UCI hinted at other countries that may soon see ProTour events including Russia, China, and Great Britain. A letter of intention has already been signed with the Chinese National Federation for a future Tour of China and discussions are underway with the Russian Federation and government.
South Australia Premier Mike Rann said the announcement the best possible present for the Tour Down Under's 10th birthday next year, calling the news "a massive sporting coup for South Australia."
"Not only will we be the first country outside of Europe to host ProTour, we are the first on the ProTour calendar for next year's series," Rann said. "This is the ultimate reward for a State that has made itself the cycling capital of Australia by truly embracing the sport and turning on a race that is second-to-none."
Tourism Minister Jane Lomax-Smith said the win is the result of more than 12 months of work to expand the Tour Down Under, along with persistent lobbying of the UCI. "The Premier, and Race Director Mike Turtur and I have each been involved in personal meetings, phone calls and repeated approaches to help secure this win for South Australia," Dr Lomax-Smith said.
Race Director Mike Turtur was ready to tackle the challenge of hosting a ProTour event. "ProTour will bring more teams and the world's best cyclists to our doorstep," he said. "The UCI has confidence in our ability to deliver a ProTour event in January next year and we will absolutely make sure that happens."
UCI unveils ProTour calendar
The UCI ProTour Council finalized the 2008 ProTour format Thursday in a meeting at the Road World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, adding the Australian Tour Down Under stage race to the calendar, but excluding the Grand Tours. The UCI said in a statement that it was "taking into account the fact that the organizers of the three major tours have confirmed that they do not wish their events to be part of the series."
The ProTour will be just one part of the UCI's world calendar, which also includes the UCI World Road Championships, the Olympic Games, and the Tour de France. According to the UCI, "the 18 UCI Pro Teams will have the right to participate [in the Tour de France], following a request from the teams."
The other races organized by the Grand Tour organizers ASO, RCS, and Unipublic, including the Giro d'Italia, the Vuelta a España, Milano-Sanremo, Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Giro di Lombardia will become part of the UCI Europe Tour, although they will be part of a new class, with unrestricted team participation, at the top of the European calendar's hierarchy.
Those organizers' other races like Tirreno-Adriatico, Paris-Nice, La Flèche Wallonne and Paris-Tours will become part of the existing hors-class (HC) portion of the calendar. The UCI is dropping the participation requirement for HC races which set a maximum of 50% UCI Pro Teams competing in any of these events.
ProTour events will be open to some continental professional teams, but they must first obtain a "new quality label" from the Licences Commission. No details were provided on what it will take to earn the label, but the UCI said generally in its statement that those continental teams "will have to undergo the same measures in the fight against doping as the UCI Pro Teams."
UCI World Calendar - ProTour 2008
January 22 - 27 Tour Down Under (Aus) April 6 Ronde van Vlaanderen / Tour des Flandres (Bel) April 7 - April 12 Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco (Spa) April 9 Gent-Wevelgem (Bel) April 20 Amstel Gold Race (Ned) April 29 - May 4 Tour de Romandie (Swi) May 19 - 25 Volta a Catalunya (Spa) June 8 - 15 Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré (Fra) June 14 - June 22 Tour de Suisse (Swi) June 22 Team Time Trial (Ned) August 2 Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian - San Sebastian (Spa) August 20 - 27 Eneco Tour (Bel, Ned, Lux) August 25 GP Ouest France - Plouay (Fra) August 29 - September 6 Deutschland Tour (Ger) September 7 Vattenfall Cyclassics (Ger) September 15 - 21 Tour de Pologne (Pol) October 5 Finale (TBD)
UCI World calendar - non ProTour
July 5 - 27 Tour de France (Fra) * August 13 Olympic Games Road Race (Chi) August 9 Olympic Games Time Trial (Chi) September 25 World Championships Time Trial (Ita) September 28 World Championships Road Race (Ita)
UCI Europe Tour new events
March 9 - 16 Paris - Nice (Fra) HC March 12 - 18 Tirreno - Adriatico (Ita) HC March 22 Milano - Sanremo (Ita)* April 13 Paris - Roubaix (Fra) * April 23 La Flèche Wallonne (Bel) HC April 27 Liège - Bastogne - Liège (Bel)* May 10 - June 1 Giro d'Italia (Ita) * August 30 - September 21 Vuelta a España (Spa) * October 12 Paris - Tours (Fra) HC October 18 Giro di Lombardia (Ita) *
* New class at the top of the calendar's hierarchy
Clement sets sights on Chrono des Nations
By Jean-François Quénet in Stuttgart, Germany
Stef Clement's bronze medal performance at the World Time Trial championship on Thursday surprised everyone, even the rider himself.. "My goal was to make the top 15 and I thought finishing in the top 10 would have been exceptional," he said. "Now the top three is something absolutely fantastic. This is a day I'll never forget. The World's podium has always been my dream."
The two time Dutch national champion is known as a specialist in the time trial, and took third on the penultimate stage of the Tour of Spain behind Samuel Sanchez and Denis Menchov, so he clearly had good form prior to the race for the rainbow jersey. Clement had to work hard to recover from a rough start to the year marked by several crashes. He went down at GP Chiasso in the early season, during the ProTour team time trial in Eindhoven and again at the Dutch championship road race. His luck was poor at the Tour of Romandie where he had to pull out because of stomach troubles, and again at the Tour de France when he was time cut the day before the time trial in Albi, which was his first big goal for his first participation at the world's biggest cycling event.
"You learn more from the bad moments than from the good ones", the 25 year-old from Breda said. "Sometimes I got bad results, there was no explanation for it and I was disappointed, today is a great one, there's also no explanation and I'm very satisfied."
His next time trial is scheduled for October 21 at the Chrono des Nations, where he hopes to improve on last year's fifth place finish. His team manager from Bouygues Telecom Jean-René Bernaudeau announced publicly that his team would target to win the race "within three years". Clement would be a logical favourite for the prestigious time trial held in Les Herbiers in Vendée just a few miles away from the headquarters of his team. Should he win in front of his French fans, he'd have to rush for making his flight to Mexico in time. That's where he has planned to spend his well deserved holidays this year after a chaotic but brilliant third pro season.
Sinkewitz denies naming Bettini
A statement from Patrik Sinkewitz's lawyer, Dr. Michael Lehner denied that his client made any statement naming outgoing World Champion Paolo Bettini as the source of the testosterone gel for which he subsequently tested positive. German television broadcaster ZDF quoted Sinkewitz on Wednesday as saying, "I got the Testogel from Italian riders and I can also name them, they were Davide Bramati and Bettini."
The statement went on to say that Sinkewitz had been giving "informal declarations to the independent commission care of the German Cycling Federation with the task of clarifying the phenomenon of doping in cycling", and that the statements were not part of any formal written record. Therefore, "these comments made and published by the Press cannot in any way be confirmed by Mr Sinkewitz who denies them."
Bettini had reportedly requested the retraction from his former team-mate Sinkewitz, saying, "If as you say you didn't say what has been reported then issue a denial immediately. If you have said what has been reported then you will have to be held responsible."
UCI guarantees Bettini start
McQuaid questions Stuttgart mayor of sport's motives
By Shane Stokes in Stuttgart, Germany
The UCI have hit back with a strongly worded response to the announcement on Thursday morning by Stuttgart Mayor of Sport Susanne Eisenmann that a court injunction has been taken out by the race organisers to try to block the participation of Paolo Bettini and Danilo Di Luca in the Elite road race on Sunday.
On Thursday evening President Pat McQuaid read a statement to the assembled media which seems certain to further increase the tension between Eisenmann and the UCI.
"The UCI would very much like to denounce the actions of Doctor Eisenmann in this situation, because it seems to us that she is following a strategy which is political and commercial," he said. After explaining the reasons why the UCI did not have the power to exclude riders for non-signature of the Riders's Commitment for a New Cycling, he went on to question Eisenmann's motives for her statement this morning and the court case started today.
"From the political point of view, she has her own political ambitions and she is following a certain strategy in using these events for that purpose. From a commercial point of view, it is important that you know that the organisation here has still not paid a substantial sum of money to the UCI in relation to the contract for this event. It would seem to the UCI that she is trying to use certain actions here to attempt to find a way out of that commitment."
Belohvosciks surprised with early start
The winner of the 2006 Chrono des Nations, Raivis Belohvosciks from Latvia, started with number 21 in the second last heat of the time trial world championship, along with Denmark's Brian Vandborg who was fourth in Salzburg last year. Both riders were unhappy with the start time, which put them at a disadvantage racing on wet roads that had totally dried for the later starters. "I don't know why they didn't put me in this top 15 as I was 12th last year," Belohvosciks said. "Otherwise I would have finished seventh or eighth, in the top 10 for sure, but actually I don't want to complain. Only the medals count."
The UCI decides the start list based on previous results in time trials, but riders such as Australian neophyte Cameron Wurf or Eugene Wacker from Kyrgyzstan rode in the last heat along with Vuelta time trial winner Bert Grabsch, leading to questions about the start order. "In the future we might even issue a UCI ranking for time trials and that will decide for the orders of the start list at the world championship", UCI road coordinator Philippe Chevallier explained to Cyclingnews. JFQ
Spaniards disappointed in time trial
By Monika Prell in Stuttgart, Germany
The two Spaniards who started the World Championship time trial were at opposite ends of the experience spectrum: Luis León Sánchez in his first elite championship and the quite experienced José Iván Gutiérrez. Gutiérrez was hopeful for a medal after putting in strong performances to win the Eneco Tour in late August, but both riders came up empty handed.
Sánchez described his first shot at the world title to Cyclingnews: "It was an important experience. It was my first professional world championships. I am proud of the confidence the selector put in me, because my competition form is not very good," he explained. "We had a very difficult Vuelta a España, and I started with a fever in Vigo. My only goal there was to help my team-mates and to recuperate." After finishing 46th, 5.07 minutes behind the winner, Sánchez was happy with his performance in Stuttgart.
"I am happy that the trainer selected me for the World's, because it's a sign of trust in me. I am satisfied to be here in Germany. The race was harder than I expected, I did not think that the climb was that hard, but I did my best. I hope that in future years, the selector will have the same confidence in me." The 23 year-old described the course: "I believe that the circuit is for riders who have a lot of power in their legs, like Iván [Gutiérrez] or [Fabian] Cancellara or similar riders."
However, 28 year-old José Iván Gutiérrez did not find quite enough power to make the podium, but finished seventh, 1 minute 56 seconds behind Fabian Cancellara. Gutiérrez and the Spanish national selector Francisco Antequera, analysed the race for Cyclingnews.
"I lacked power," Gutiérrez complained. "When I crossed the finish line for the first time, I was demoralised by seeing my time. But when [Laszlo] Bodrogi overtook me, I got new morale and tried to follow him, so my second lap was better than the first one." Antequera praised Bodrogi's pacing: "You know? He descended very fast and maintained his speed during the climb."
Semchuk unfit to start women's road race
By Gregor Brown in Stuttgart, Germany
The UCI performed out doping controls on 23 riders Thursday morning. The nations of Spain, Portugal, Great Britain and Ukraine were tested, the latter had its rider Svitlana Semchuk declared 'unfit' to start.
The 22 year-old was slated to start with the Ukrainian women's team in the road race on Saturday.
The new Astana is "under surveillance" by the UCI
The ongoing tussle between Tour de France organisers, the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) and the UCI over the ProTour might end up affecting the Astana team. With the UCI demanding that the Tour de France allow all the ProTour teams to start, and the ASO historically fighting to limit the number of teams it is required to invite to 18, the Astana team might find itself on the chopping block after suffering three doping positives in 2007.
Although no official comment has been made on that matter yet, it's rumoured that ASO isn't interested in organizing the Tour de France with teams like Astana, who have had doping positives of Matthias Kessler (testosterone), Alexandre Vinokourov and Andreï Kashechkin (blood doping), and reportedly maintain ties to Dr. Michele Ferrari.
"I won't make any name but we'll watch closely the projects of the teams before they'll get the ProTour status," UCI ProTour manager Alain Rumpf told Cyclingnews in Stuttgart. "We will also take into consideration who is behind the scenes." Discovery Channel's Johann Bruyneel is rumoured to be one of the men 'behind the scenes', and has his own conflicts with the ProTour after he signed the now disgraced Italian Ivan Basso in a move contrary to the ProTour code of Ethics.
Rumpf confirmed Astana's future is in question. "Astana is under high surveillance," he said. "We got Marc Biver to give us explanations and plans about what he'll do against drugs in the future. But we heard that Biver might no longer be in the picture, so we wrote a letter to the license holder, which is the Kazakh cycling federation. We are still waiting for their precise answer. For now, they only say that we don't have to worry about the team being clean." JFQ
Belgian doping trial gets underway
Cycling legend Johan Museeuw went on trial on Thursday along with ten others accused of supplying or using performance enhancing drugs. The primary defendant, veterinarian Jose Landuyt is accused trafficking performance enhancing drugs. If found guilty, Landuyt could a two year sentence (half suspended) while Museeuw faces 'hefty' fines. Landuyt and former professional cyclist Jo Planckaert were present to hear the charges, while Museeuw chose to send his lawyer.
"We want to give a clear signal to the world of cycling," said prosecutor Wouter Haelewyn. "The drugs harmed the body and were designed to give those that took them an unfair edge in competitions."
Landuyt's co-defendant, physiotherapist Herman Verseele faces an 18-month sentence, half of it suspended, for importing doping products.
Museeuw, the three-time Paris-Roubaix winner, along with Mario De Clercq, Jo Planckaert and Chris Peers are accused of using EPO. Only Museeuw admitted to any wrongdoing, claiming he was guilty of "dishonesty" at the end of his career earlier in a press conference in January. His former competitor, two-time Tour of Flanders winner Edwig Van Hooydonck, accused him of using drugs for his entire career.
Landuyt's lawer admitted that his client had made mistakes, but denied he was the head of a doping ring.
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