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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News, August 8, 2008

Edited by Laura Weislo

Rolland: ready to serve in Beijing

By Jean-François Quenet in Beijing

Pierre Rolland
Photo ©: JF Quenet
(Click for larger image)

The youngest member of the French cycling team, Pierre Rolland, 21 years-old, represents the future of French Cycling. The ambitious racer has competed with the best in the world at Paris Nice, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré.

He was judged too young to compete in the Tour de France for his Crédit Agricole team, despite winning the mountains classification at the Dauphine. With his team unlikely to continue into 2009, Rolland will leave in order to join Bouygues Telecom at the end of the year. Before the move to be a leader on his new team, he will lend his services to Jérôme Pineau and Pierrick Fedrigo at the foot of the Great Wall of China.

Rolland never expected to find himself in Beijing in August. "At the beginning of the year I told myself that although it was an Olympic year, it wasn't one of my projects to come to Bejing. I did not think I was capable of being a member of the French Team. I also though that there would be only four representatives instead of five," he said.

"Then I thought a little of the Olympics before the Dauphiné [at the beginning of June]. After the French championships [where he finished 7th -ed.], I was pre-selected, and I trained myself for the Olympics during the Tour de France."

Rolland was selected for the team ahead of other, more senior riders, but said the honour was something he could not refuse. "It is a sort of continuation of the beginning of my season. It was not logical but almost," he said. "This year has been good for me. One does not refuse a selection for the Olympic Games. I've previously been selected to the national squad while racing in the junior categories, but never before as a professional. It is an enormous honour to be here."

After taking in the course, which heads north from Beijing into the mountains for a challenging circuit, Rolland said he may find the race to be more difficult because of the air quality and weather. "It is a beautiful circuit, which in normal times would work well for me, but in training, I found it very difficult to breathe fully. The conditions are not favourable for cycling - the conditions are what will determine the race. The same circuit, in Europe, would be less hard."

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Other riders weren't adversely affected, however. "In training, I saw Jérôme Pineau was looking really good. The circuit will be equally good for Pierrick Fedrigo. We have not already figured out our tactics, but I am going to put myself at their service. If a small group arrives at the sprint, they will have the chance to do well."

With France coming up against two Grand Tour winners in Carlos Sastre and Alberto Contador, Rolland knows exactly who will be important to watch. "Spain has a super team. Italy, too [with the last Olympic champion Paolo Bettini]. and Luxembourg [with the brothers Schleck and Kim Kirchen]. But they have two arms and two legs like us."

However, he said that the race would be difficult to call because of the small team sizes. "The surprise could come from any team because no team will be able to control the race with there being only five riders per nation and not nine like at the World Championships."

Bastianelli and Sella suspended by CONI

World road champion Marta Bastianelli and Giro d'Italia king of the mountains Emanuele Sella have both been suspended from competition following failed doping controls, the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) announced Thursday.

The anti-doping tribunal of the CONI met in a closed session and accepted the recommendation of prosecutor Ettore Torri. Bastianelli tested positive for a stimulant, flenfluramine, during the U23 European Championships on July 5. She had been removed from the Italian Olympic team after the news of the positive became public.

The 21-year-old pled not guilty in a hearing on Tuesday and blamed a diet pill for the positive test.

Emanuele Sella, winner of three stages in the Giro 2008, tested positive for the third generation EPO called CERA, in an out of competition control conducted by the UCI. He will be heard Friday by the CONI anti-doping prosecutors.

Fifth positive possible from Tour

After results of the doping controls made at the Tour de France were made public by the French Anti-doping Agency (ALFD) on Thursday, a possible fifth doping positive has been inferred from the results by several media outlets. The AFLD announced that it had found 22 abnormal results from 13 riders out of the hundreds of controls taken during the Tour.

Of those 'abnormal' results, six riders returned positives for glucocorticosteroids but were covered by a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) by either the UCI or the AFLD. One rider, who was not identified, tested positive for the same substance but was not covered by an exemption, leading to speculation that this could be announced as a failed doping control by the AFLD.

Two others were found to have beta-2 antagonists (asthma medications) in their sample, but both had TUEs.

The remaining abnormal controls were made public during the Tour de France: the EPO positives of Manuel Beltran, Moises Dueñas and Riccardo Riccò accounted for four abnormal tests, while the stimulant heptaminol detected in Dmitri Fofonov's urine was found twice.

The AFLD also revealed that 76 of the 180 riders who started the Tour had a TUE for at least one drug.

Longo unfazed by Beijing air

Jeannie Longo
Photo ©: Fabrice Lambert
(Click for larger image)

French legend Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli is in Beijing to contest her seventh Olympic Games, and after a few days of acclimatisation finds the heat and humidity to be not much worse than her previous experiences. Having been to Los Angeles, Seoul, Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney and Athens, she has seen it all, but found Beijing to be a lot like her home away from home.

"I spend a lot of time in the Reunion Island which has a similar climate, very damp and hot, but with a little bit more sun," she said, recalling her training ground on the French départment in the Indian Ocean. "Mind you, I saw the sun briefly today at the top of the wall," Longo told Reuters.

Longo, who spent her time pre-Olympics training at altitude in Colorado, had become used to the heat during her preparation, and was not affected by the pollution and humidity in China, and said she had experienced worse conditions in Mexico City. "We had 43-44 degrees in Denver, but it was a dry heat altitude," she said to AFP. "What I fear most is the air conditioning ...."

When the women head out from Beijing to fight for the medals on Sunday, Longo expects her best chance to come if the race is made hard before the climbs on the finishing circuit. "I think I have a chance on this course if the race toughens early in the big stretch leading to the final circuit," she said to Reuters. "The climb is hard and goes up step-by-step, but the descent is too easy and will make it difficult to break away."

Longo, at 49, has won 55 national titles in her time, and already has four Olympic medals, including a gold from Atlanta in 1996. But even though she's already tallied up an enormous number of victories, she's not counting herself out for the future. She's said before that she would retire, but kept returning not only to form, but to her place as fastest French woman. "I'm not a liar, but every time, the urge comes back and I resume training and I feel fine," said Longo. "This season I told myself 'why not give it another try?' and the training went well."

Will she return for Olympic Games number nine? "London could be fun, and it's not far from home," said Longo.

Sastre – Champion with a heart

Sastre presents a check for 10,000 euros
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

In the saddle, Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre is tough against his rivals, offering them beatings like in Alpe d'Huez in this year's Tour de France. Off the saddle, however, Sastre reveals his social side, and often talks about his family and engages in a few charities. His social awareness helped develop the only fan club he has. Cyclingnews' Bjorn Haake took a look at the Amigos Carlos Sastre.

A day after winning the criterium in Aalst, Belgium, Carlos Sastre visited the University of Gent hospital to meet with children who have cancer. Sastre gave out T-shirts, hats and other things that made the children's eyes light up. It was Sastre's fourth visit to the hospital, but his involvement in this institution in Belgium stems from a curious fact. His only fan club – besides one of close family members – Amigos Carlos Sastre, is in Aalter, near Gent.

The club counted 500 members before the Tour de France. Barely a week after the race had concluded, the membership, which is based on donations, was up to 700. As little as five euro will do the trick, with no upper limits. The club was founded by Freddy Plehiers, who is friends with CSC's team doctor Joost De Maeseneer.

Maeseneer introduced Plehiers to Sastre in 2002. Plehiers and Sastre crossed paths several times after that at races. Sastre started to recognise Plehiers and his friend, Roland Schautteet. Schautteet had the added advantage of speaking Spanish.

Schautteet now serves as the president of the Amigos Carlos Sastre, and has helped to push the charitable aspect of the club. At the Six Days in Gent in November 2007, Plehiers and Schautteet were able to present a check of 5,000 euro to the foundation. The club had raised 2,500 euro and Sastre doubled the money. Sastre presented the check to the president of the University.

At the criterium in Aalst, a day after the 2008 Tour de France had concluded, members could be seen walking around the course. They enjoyed the racing, but always had one watchful eye for potential new members. Dieter Dullaers and Christoph Eeckhout were two of those that signed up new donors on the spot. "We signed up quite a few people this afternoon, when Sastre was in Aalter. There were lots of people and the press was there, too."

Sastre pitched in even more this time. From the money he received in Aalst, he donated 10,000 euro. Another 7,500 euro came from the criterium in Holland. And he equipped the club with 150 T-shirts, with the sale's proceeds also going to the foundation.

Continue to the full feature.

Transfer rumour mill churning

Mark Renshaw (Credit Agricole)
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image)

The post-Tour period is the height of contract negotiations for the following season, and while most formal announcements will not come until September 1, the date the UCI lays down as the earliest date a contract can be finalised, some informal announcements and rumours come out well before then.

The Crédit Agricole riders were allowed to pursue new deals after manager Roger Legeay failed to secure a new sponsor for the upcoming season.

Pierre Rolland is the latest of the riders to find a new home for 2009 after learning of his team's likely demise at the season's end. Currently in Beijing to contest the Olympic road race, Rolland revealed that he is in negotiations with Bouygues Telecom.

"It's not signed but I will go with Bouygues Telecom," told AFP. He will join his Crédit Agricole team-mate William Bonnet on the French squad. Meanwhile, Remi Pauriol, also in Beijing, has signed for two years at Cofidis and Christophe Le Mevel will head to Française des Jeux through 2010. reports that Mark Renshaw will head to Team Columbia. Renshaw led the Tour Down Under for two stages at the start of the season.

They also report that Francis Failly has renewed with Acqua & Sapone - Caffè Mokambo. The Tuscan rider re-signed with the team of Palmiro Masciarelli for one year with an option to continue in the 2010 season. has linked former U23 world time trial champion Dominique Cornu to the Quick-Step team. The 22-year-old who currently rides with Silence-Lotto has had a somewhat lackluster season, but could find new life at the rival Belgian squad. But he denied that he had signed anything yet.

Wilfried Cretskens, on the other hand, will leave Quick Step to head for Silence-Lotto, the Belgian paper reported.

Menzies makes return at Marion Classic

By Mark Zalewski

Karl Menzies (Healthnet)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

A newer race on the scene in the American Midwest is the Brighthouse Networks Marion Classic, stepping up its prize purse to $20,000 over two criteriums in Marion, Indiana. But an even bigger occurrence at the races will be the return of Tasmanian Karl Menzies (Health Net-Maxxis) who severely injured himself on a nasty fall at the Reading Classic of Philly Week.

Menzies told Cyclingnews that he has just recently been able to get back on the road after breaking his wrist and ribs in Reading, so measured expectations are due for this weekend. "I had a cast going for two months but got that off last Wednesday and only been on the road four times since then, so it's still tender! I thought it would be magic, take the cast off and be ready to go! It is a little slow going, but I wanted to get back in there."

As to how he found Marion to restart his season, Menzies said, "I've been spending a lot of time on the Internet with my time off, as you can imagine, and came across the race in Marion. [The promoter] has been trying to build the race and I wanted a race where I could start off a little easier. I'm not sure how I'll go but it's a step in the right direction."

The greater goal is to get his form back for the Tour of Missouri, which has become the biggest race of the season for him. Entering Philly week, Menzies had experienced a down first half of the season, but was coming on form with a second place at the Lehigh Valley Classic.

As such, his focus will be less on winning the races this weekend than getting in some racing kilometres. "Aw, s*** no!" he laughed about winning. "I've been riding on the trainer so I have fitness but nothing is like racing. I'm training for Missouri so I'll get more rides on the road and hopefully be good to go in four weeks time."

Of course, coming back from an injury, especially from a crash, can make one hesitant going into corners. "If I crash I'll be pissed! It's going to be in the back of my head because I broke five ribs, and it's not totally healed. I don't think I'll be the one guy taking the last corner Kelly Benefits style - I'll either be broken away or off the back!"

The Marion Classic is right in the middle of last weekend's big money race the Tour of Elk Grove near Chicago and the upcoming criterium national championships in Downers Grove, Illinois, so a lot of fast legs will be looking to keep their speed up. Menzies said he will also be heading to Downers Grove, in support of the current national champion Kirk O'Bee. "I'll probably make the start, but we're splitting guys with Utah. We do have the defending champ so I would like to get in there and contribute."

In addition to Menzies, more than 100 riders are expected in the pro/1/2 races, including Team Inferno with track omnium world champion Hayden Godfrey. The courses are quite varied with Friday evening's course featuring a challenging hill while Saturday is a flat riverfront course. In addition, the race will be televised on the Bright House cable network.

U.S. elite road champion will defend title

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor

Elite road champion Paul Martin (Texas Roadhouse)
Photo ©: Mark Zalewski
(Click for larger image)

While the men's professional championships for the United States road titles occur at the end of August in a separate event, elite amateurs (similar to the 'without contract' status of other countries) are vying for the stars and stripes jersey this weekend in Irvine, California both in the time trial and road race disciplines. The defending road champion Paul Martin (Texas Roadhouse), a resident of Ohio, was unsure if he would spend the time and money traveling to California to defend his championship. But in a rare irony, Martin's nine-to-five job will allow him to make the trip, opposed to getting in the way of training.

"I actually have a business trip that week, so I will already be there!" he told Cyclingnews while racing the recent Superweek series. "I don't think my wife would have let me go otherwise."

Martin will be tough to be as he recently defended his masters national title from 2007 in the 35-39 age category; since the trip to Louisville, Kentucky was easier to manage. Along with this, Martin was on good form at Superweek and Chicago, often making it into the main breakaways that lapped the field.

Trying to unseat him will be a large field, including a California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized team with thirteen starters, including Andy Jacques-Maynes and James Mattis who had an impressive ride at the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic.

Other names of note are former professional David Clinger riding for Van Dessel/Bike Warrior, a Rock Racing amateur team and a veteran one-two punch from two former Olympians and Pan Am Games gold medalists Thurlow Rogers and Wayne Stetina (Amgen/Giant Masters). 

Cyclo-cross skills in print

Cyclo-cross has become increasingly popular in the United States and other countries outside of its traditional base in Northern Europe. With that comes the need for instruction on the highly technical discipline, and the gap has been filled by Colorado coach Scott Mares.

Mares, who has been running the American Cycling Associations' (ACA) cyclo-cross camps for nine years has helped to produce more than a dozen national champions and even a silver at the junior worlds championships.

"The Complete Book of Cyclo-cross, Skill Training and Racing" will be available on line at on September 1. The book will retail for $20.00. The web site is full of information about the book and the author including a sample chapter from the book.

Golden Wheelrace returns to T-town

For the third year in a row, the Golden Wheel Race will come to the Valley Preferred Cycling Center in Trexlertown, Pennsylvania. The Friday, August 8 event highlights one of the most exciting forms of bicycle racing: the wheel race. Otherwise known as a "handicap", the wheel race has riders qualify for a seeded final via traditional events such as the scratch, elimination, and points.

In the wheel race final, riders are ranked according to speed and ability, and are then staggered around the track for the start of the race. The objective of staggering the start is to give all riders a fair chance to win the race, producing arguably the most exciting finish in cycling.

Professional riders scheduled to attend this Friday's race are Argentina's Leandro Bottasso, New Zealand's Simon VanVelthooven, Australian national team members Jason Niblett and Kaarle McCulloch. Jackie Simes, a Trexlertown native, will also hit the track along with Ben Barczewski, last year's Rider of the Year Pete Fitzpatrick and host of many other international riders.

In conjunction with the wheel race, the Corporate Challenge teams will fight for "bragging rights" in the Lehigh Valley. Eighteen different corporate teams will duke it out in the Italian Pursuit time trials to see who will bring home the title of "fastest business in the Valley". Participants in the Corporate Challenge include Air Products, Lehigh Carbon Community College, Mack Truck, Valley Sports and Arthritis Surgeons, Dual Temp, St. Lukes, Red Robin, Rodale Press, Bicycling Magazine, Fuji Bicycles, Ondra-Huyett Associates Inc., and Valley Preferred.

Gates will open at 6:30 and racing will begin promptly at 7:30. To view ticket prices for all World Series of Bicycling events please go to

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