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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News, April 3, 2008

Edited by Hedwig Kröner, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

CPA consider legal action if 2007 Tour de France prizes remain unpaid

FFC president Jean Pitallier still holds prize money from ASO president Patrice Clerc
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Amid threats of legal action, the Association of Professional Cyclists (CPA) asked again for an explanation from the French Cycling Federation (FFC) as to why its riders had not been fully paid their prize money from the 2007 Tour de France.

In accordance with UCI regulation C, Article 1.2.072, the riders had expected to be paid within 90 days of the end of the race or by October 27, 2007. (UCI Regulation C, Article 1.2.072). However, the CPA said in a press release Wednesday that so far only prizes related to the general classification had been paid thus far, and only to foreign racers.

"The CPA sent one more mail to Mr. Jean Pitallier [president of the French Cycling Federation - ed.], after the one it already sent last February 24, asking him to explain..." said the press release. The CPA also called for the FFC to explain what it would do with the interest it has been earning on the money since October 27, 2007 and noted that it had already profitted from interest earned between June 2007, when race organiser ASO paid it the prize money, through October 26.

The CPA indicated it may take legal action in an effort to get the prize money paid if no reply is received within eight days. Previously, Cyclingnews reported that the delay was allegedly pending resolution of the sentences for riders like [Alexander] Vinokourov, [Cristian] Moreni, [Iban] Mayo, [Patrik] Sinkewitz and [Michael] Rasmussen – the first three who tested positive during the 2007 Tour de France and Rasmussen, who was forced to abandon by his team following questionable whereabouts in the race's lead-up.

The FFC is currently in financial distress, as it lost a lawsuit over 1 million euro in damages to be paid to Patrice Sulpice, who crashed while training in preparation for the Worlds in Colombia in 1995 and now sits in a wheelchair.

Back on track: The other Bradley dreams of Olympic gold

Bradley McGee (Team CSC) is delighted
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Injury has hampered the recent career of Brad McGee, but it appears that the talented Australian may be on course for a return to top form. Cyclingnews Shane Stokes spoke to the 32-year-old and found him to be calm, confident and thoroughly enjoying his sport.

It's been a few years since Australian Bradley McGee displayed the kind of form which earned him prologue victories in the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and top results on the track, including Olympic gold and a world championship. Plagued by a nagging injury for the past few years, McGee finally found the answer to his medical woes this year, and went on to put in a solid showing at the world track championships in Manchester.

After finishing fifth in the individual pursuit and being part of the four-man squad which got bronze medals in the team pursuit, McGee was all smiles when talking the day after his final event. This was despite the fact that many might consider those performances to be a step back for a rider who has been world champion and Olympic silver medallist in the individual pursuit, as well as an Olympic champion in the team event.

"The worlds has been great," he enthused to Cyclingnews. "I knew I wasn't on my top form. But it is March, I had just a week with the boys in Bordeaux before coming here to do something on the track, and I really believe I got everything that was in my legs out in the competition. That's always a good thing. It has set me up with some good motivation for the next couple of months."

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McGee's individual pursuit qualifying time of 4 minutes 20.43 seconds was over four seconds off the pace set by Jenning Huizenga (Netherlands), and saw him miss out on the bronze medal ride off. He's got over four months before Beijing, though, and is optimistic that he can raise his game significantly.

"It's definitely possible," he said. "It doesn't take much... a slight gain in power gives you a slight gain per lap, and if you project that over 16 laps then you are certainly going a lot faster. I know what to do, we are fine-tuning a plan that we have already set out, so we'll see."

Click here to read the full interview with Bradley McGee.

No decision yet on Petacchi hearing

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) held a hearing on Alessandro Petacchi's doping case on Wednesday, but will not announce its decision until next month. "It was a long hearing at which all the various aspects of the affair were analysed," a Team Milram spokesman told the Reuters news agency. "The judges said there should be a decision in three or four weeks."

The Italian sprinter tested positive for Salbutamol, an asthma medication, after stage 11 of last year's Giro d'Italia. Petacchi has a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) from the UCI to use the drug, but the amount of the substance found in his body indicated an abuse. The controversy caused him to miss the Tour de France, even if in the end of July the Italian Cycling Federation cleared him of the charges. That decision was appealed to the CAS by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI).

Cavendish recovers from "dog days"

Mark Cavendish (High Road) victorious in De Panne
Photo ©: AFP
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Team High Road's Mark Cavendish blasted his way to the win in the second stage of Driedaagse De Panne , coming seemingly out of nowhere to win the mass sprint by several bike lengths, in a way which directeur sportif Alan Peiper called "incredible". But the 22 year-old Manxman seems to have a series of ups and downs in his performance.

"In the Tour of California, he had a problem with his fitness. He couldn't get over any mountains," Peiper told the belga press agency. "The next da, he is great. You can never underestimate him."

Cavendish's inconsistency continued in De Panne. "Tuesday, he lay on the massage table worrying about his dog. The animal is eleven years old and poorly off. He said he could not think of riding," revealed Peiper. Obviously, Cavendish was able to clear his head of his worries before the sprint finish on Wednesday.

"We have a lot of work to do with him on the team. We must guide him, but he is thankful for that," Peiper concluded.

De Panne was Cavendish's first road victory this year, but it followed his gold medal in the Madison with High Road team-mate Bradley Wiggins in the Track World Championships in Manchester.

De Panne crash series continued

The wave of injuries continues, and on Wednesday it hit the Austrian Professional Continental teams, with Team Volksbank losing two in the Driedaagse De Panne and Team Elk Haus losing a rider to a non-cycling accident. One of these crashes in Belgium also took out Steven Cozza of Slipstream.

Writing on the team's website, the mustachioed Cozza said, "After about 180 km of easy racing, I went to move up the right side when I got totally tackled by a German rider. Later on, I heard he had his head down and just smashed me from behind. When I was on the ground in pain, all I wanted to do was get up and beat the crap out of him. If it wasn't for him crying in pain also, I probably would have. Later, at the hospital, I learned he had only sprained his pinky. Man, what a wimp!"

The American was diagnosed with a broken collarbone, "the exact same place and break that I got in November."

That German rider was Volksbank's Olaf Pollack, who last week won a silver medal in the Madison for Germany at the Track World Championships in Manchester. X-rays showed that his left hand was bruised and not broken. "Fortunately I was planning to have a two-week training pause anyway," the 33 year-old said.

Pascal Hungerbühler (Team Volksbank) was one of riders to go down
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Earlier in the race, his team-mate Pascal Hungerbühler had already made the trip to the hospital. "After I crashed and lay in a bush, another rider rolled over my leg," the 31 year-old Swiss rider said. He was diagnosed with a broken foot bone, received a plaster cast and flew home the same evening. He will be operated on Thursday. "A plate will speed up the healing process, but a rest of several weeks is unavoidable," said team manager Thomas Kofler. "We don't want to take any risks."

Meanwhile, Elk Haus' Thomas Rohregger is out of action because of a household accident. "I fell on the stairs and landed on my jaw. Fortunately it was okay, but I broke a bone in my foot." Unlike Hungerbühler, he was unwilling to let the doctor give him a plaster cast, "which would have meant a four-week pause. I said no right away. After all, I want to be fit again to ride the Giro del Trentino the end of April." He had the foot tightly wrapped and started training again within days.

If that weren't enough, Rohregger came down with a case of bronchitis. "It can't get any worse," the 25 year-old said. "I hope that I'll be fit again quickly so that I can concentrate on my preparations. My season goals of the Österreich Tour, the Deutschland Tour and the Olympics, are not at all in danger."

Sixday of Milan back with Basso

Bettini and Marco Villa at the 'Bike4Show' last year
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

The Sei Giorni di Milano, the Milan Sixday is back on the UCI track calendar. As the Gazzetta dello Sport reported Thursday, the prestigious track cycling event, which had not been carried out these last nine years, will again be held next autumn, from November 4-9, in the glass-and-steel Milano-Rho Fiera venue, at the same time than the EICMA bike show.

What's more, the list of participants is already impressive: Road World Champion Paolo Bettini will team up with Sixday specialist Marco Villa, Italian Super-sprinter Alessandro Petacchi pairs with his veteran team-mate and Sixday fan Erik Zabel, and Spring Classics contenders Filippo Pozzato and Alessandro Ballan have also already agreed to attend. On top of this already high-class field, another rider will be making his come-back: Ivan Basso, whose suspension for attempted doping within the Operación Puerto affair ends October 24.

Last winter, race organisers succeeded their bid of the 'Bike4Show', a four-day track racing event, also held at the same time than the famous bike show. The initiative of reviving the Sixday event was taken by former Olympic and World champion Silvio Martinello. The track used will be short: only 166 metres as opposed to 250 metres last year. This, organisers hope, will add to the spectacle.

Vandenbroucke "inactive" in light of court hearing

Frank Vandenbroucke has been placed on the "inactive list" by his team Mitsubishi-Jartazi, after the Belgian rider was linked to a cocaine investigation. "After mutual consideration between the management of the Mitsubishi-Jartazi cycling team, the sponsors of the team, Frank Vandenbroucke and Paul De Geyter, manager and representative of Frank Vandenbroucke, it was agreed to place the named rider on the inactive list. This is in anticipation of further and clearer information on a possible judicial study of this person," the team announced on its website.

The Belgian media reported on Wednesday that Vandenbroucke's name had arisen as a customer in an investigation of gang drug dealers. "VDB" is alleged to have purchased a small amount of cocaine for his personal use earlier this year.

"Frank Vandenbroucke has indeed been called in a drug case", said prosecutor Marie-Christine Durieu to the Belga news agency. "As a minor customer, he is just one on a long list. But he has the misfortune that his name is Frank Vandenbroucke."

Vandenbroucke had been in Italy and was scheduled to return to Belgium Wednesday. The Belgian had not yet been questioned by the court. "But his file is being investigated. It seems very probable that he will be questioned," his attorney, Johnny Maeschalk said.

Men's racing at Nature Valley by invitation only

Despite the recent spate of races dropping off the calendar, one of the bigger week-long races is enjoying increased popularity. The Nature Valley Grand Prix announced that it is switching the selection format for its men's category, from an open registration to an invitation-only procedure, in order to ensure the top teams on the domestic racing scene have spots in the race.

"The popularity of the Nature Valley Grand Prix has been growing steadily since it joined the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar in 1999," a press statement said. "The men's field has filled for the past four years, filling more than a month before the official registration deadline for the past two. Teams missed out simply because they weren't checking the registration page on an almost daily basis weeks before the event."

Teams wishing to be considered for an invitation must submit an application via Sports Base Online by 1 May. The women's category will remain an open format.

Cincinnati 'cross race improves status

A popular Ohio cyclo-cross race stepped up its UCI status to category one for 2008. The BioWheels/United Dairy Farmers Cyclo-cross in suburban Cinncinati, Ohio, announced that the UCI had granted an upgrade for the race, which was last year graded a C2.

Last year's event drew racers like Barry Wicks and Katie Compton, who won the featured UCI races. This year, the race will be held on Sunday, October 12 as the capstone to a planned three-day weekend of UCI-sanctioned OVCX cyclo-cross racing in Ohio. It is part of the 14-event Ohio Valley Cyclo-cross Series in the Midwest US.

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