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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News, December 3, 2008

Edited by Bjorn Haake

Zabel zooms in for Cavendish

By Daniel Benson in Mallorca

A smiling Erik Zabel rides with Columbia
Photo ©: Daniel Benson
(Click for larger image)

Erik Zabel has become the latest Team Columbia recruit – joining the team as an advisor to their budding sprinters from the beginning of 2009.

The recently retired pro will work alongside the young sprinters such as Mark Cavendish, André Greipel and Mark Renshaw, bringing to the team his 18 years of racing experience. However, he will not become part of the team management and has no full-time contract.

Zabel rode for the team when it was known as Team Telekom and T-Mobile Team from 1993 to 2005, before finishing his career out at Team Milram from 2006 to 2008.

Known for his dedication and ability to win throughout the year, the signing of Zabel is a signal of Columbia's intent to dominate the sprints once again next year. This season, the American outfit won a grand total of 84 races, many of them coming from bunch sprints.

Bob Stapleton was quick to praise his newest ally. "I've always had a lot of respect for Erik and I've known him for a few years now, but it was interesting to see how he was accepted by the athletes and they're already asking him questions," he said.

"It's hard when riders come out of retirement early. I mean, are there going to be rivalries? With Erik being a sprinter, you know what sprinters are like, and our team having so many good ones, but I was really excited to see how the riders were open to it. It has been really encouraging."

The 38-year-old won an unprecedented six Green jerseys at the Tour de France, as well as four titles in Milano-Sanremo. In total, the German won over 200 races spanning an 18-year career. He links up with former T-Mobile teammates Rolf Aldag and Brian Holm at Columbia.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Daniel Benson/

Armstrong and Contador ride separate paths towards Tour

Lance Armstrong rides with Astana teammates during a hard workout
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Team Astana's Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador are on separate paths towards the 2009 Tour de France, starting with the team's training camp on the Spanish island of Tenerife. The duo, both Tour de France winners, rode in separate groups during yesterday's training ride.

"It was hard training. Here, there are long and demanding climbs. With [Levi] Leipheimer and [Jesús] Hernández I was often going all out," said Armstrong to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The seven-time Tour champion, returning from retirement, completed four hours of riding yesterday that took in the 12-kilometre climb of Erjos. His group contained other top riders, including Andreas Klöden, and was followed by Team Manager Johan Bruyneel and Directeur Sportif Dirk Demol. Alberto Contador, winner of all three Grand Tours, rode two and a half hours with a separate group guided by Directeur Sportif Alain Gallopin. It was his first training ride since an operation last week on his nose.

Both riders have July's Tour de France on their mind. Armstrong will ride the Giro d'Italia for the first time in May and Contador, winner of this year's Giro, will follow a separate programme to focus on repeating his 2007 Tour victory.

"It is not a complicated relationship. At Astana we are professionals and we will race for the strongest," said Armstrong. "In 2008, he was the best in the world, while it is not said that I will be the same as 2004 and 2005 [He retired after winning the 2005 Tour - ed.]. Therefore, if Alberto is still the strongest I will support him."

Armstrong's words surprised Contador, who was uncomfortable talking about the team for the Tour." Yeah, he said that? It is good that there is this attitude in the team. Armstrong is a person like everyone else, with him I have the same relationship that I have with any other teammate."

Tomorrow is the official team presentation of the 2009 team. Tour Director Christian Prudhomme will be part of the guests in attendance and it will be the second encounter recently for the two. They met last week while Armstrong stopped at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport. (GB)

Cops stop "topless" Horner

By Susan Westemeyer

Chris Horner left his helmet at home, but brought his pro license
Photo ©: Mark Zalewski
(Click for larger image)

Most cyclists in Spain are legally required to wear helmets, so when a Spanish policeman saw a group out for a ride and one rider not wearing a helmet, he pulled that rider over. Fortunately, Team Astana's Chris Horner knew that professional riders are not covered by the law.

Astana is holding its training camp on Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, and a group of riders including Horner and Lance Armstrong went out for a ride, when the group was stopped by the Spanish police.

"Horner found it funny because he knew the rules – he lived for some time in Spain – and knew there is an exception for professional riders," Astana spokesman Philippe Maertens told Cyclingnews. "He had to explain the rules to the policeman." After showing his identification to prove that he was, indeed, a pro rider, he was able to go on his way.

The 37-year-old actually had his rider's license with him as proof. "He always has it with him as he knows the Spanish rules," Maertens said. "Probably he was the only one who had it with him."

The Spanish law requiring helmets took effect in January of 2004. The exceptions are: when riding in cities or towns, during "periods of extreme heat", when riding up steep hills, for medical reasons and professional cyclists. Any riders during a competition are not required to wear a helmet, either. Violators are subject to a fine of up to 90 euro.

Gripper visits Columbia for anti-doping update

By Daniel Benson in Mallorca

Anne Gripper visited Columbia's training camp
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The UCI's Anne Gripper made a flying visit to Team Columbia's training camp Monday, to explain changes to the governing body's (Union Cycliste International) testing procedures for 2009. Gripper and her colleagues will be visiting as many ProTour teams as possible in the coming weeks, with Liquigas next on the list.

"We're giving each team an update on the biological passport and how the programme has progressed. We want to give them notice and explain what will happen next year with rule changes that affect them under the World anti-doping [WADA] code and the UCI's anti-doping rules," said Gripper.

The first rule change concerns the riders' whereabouts, with athletes required to specify a one-hour guaranteed testing slot every day for a three-month period. Within that time-frame they must have a daily residence and they must inform the UCI of their schedule, as well as any travel arrangements, via the ADAMS, the Anti-Doping Administration & Management System. ADAMS is an online reporting system for the riders which allow them to make quick changes if their schedule changes. The one-hour rule was previously adopted by Germany.

"Obviously they don't know their exact plans for March, so they also have to update their whereabouts if a change occurs. It's only during that one-hour slot that a missed test can be recorded. That's where they need to be careful. If they have three whereabouts failures or three missed tests [or a mixture of both] in 18 months it can lead to an anti-doping violation, depending on the circumstance. Riders can provide explanations before a ruling is made," said Gripper.

The second major rule change covers therapeutic use exemptions and how riders apply for them. There are now different types, meaning a rider with asthma will need to have an 'asthma TUE' (therapeutic use exemption) form, which needs a full medical file. Those using corticoids steroids need only to declare that through ADAMS.

Another rule change means that national anti-doping organisations are required to inform the UCI of any missed test or a finding failure.

Gripper was also at the team training camp to demonstrate the upgrades made to the ADAMS system. "The rider asked some good questions but most were interested in the practical side of how the programme worked and out-of-competition testing," Gripper said.

Sinkewitz will lead PSK Whirlpool-Author

Patrik Sinkewitz
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The Professional Continental team PSK Whirlpool-Author from the Czech Republic has established its complete roster for 2009. With the addition of German Patrik Sinkewitz, the total number of riders is 17, like in 2008. Six left the team and six riders joined for the new season.

The manager of PSK Whirlpool-Author, Vladimir Vavra, confirmed the new team hierarchy. "Patrik Sinkewitz is our new head leader."

Twenty-eight-year old Sinkewitz won Rund um den Henninger Turm in 2007 and the overall of the 2004 Deutschland Tour. He also had top five finishes in the Amstel Gold Race, Liège–Bastogne–Liège or La Flčche Wallonne.

In the 2007 Tour de France he was caught for doping and served a suspension until July of 2008.

Vávra was content with the collaboration of Sinkewitz with the German authorities. "He made an error and paid hard for it. We agreed his contract with the head sponsors and we are glad that he could join us. We need a big name who can win the hardest races. We are not the first team that takes a rider after punishment. Even Liquigas signed Basso."

Sinkewitz feels happy with the new squad. "We already had our first team meeting. I felt good with new colleagues. We have good team and I think we can achieve big things. Our programme is practically the same as when I was in T-Mobile. I have big motivation to achieve [good results]. I'm still good rider. I'm excited [to be with a] Czech team and I am looking forward to the new season."

Another German comes from the Professional Continental team 3C Gruppe, Matthias Friedemann. Czech riders to join are Martin Hebik (Sparta Praha), Frantisek Padour (Windoor's Pribram), Pavel Zitta and Antonin Linda.

Rene Andrle finished his active career, but will remain with the team as a directeur sportif. Andrle was riding for ONCE and Liberty Seguros. Other riders to leave are Radek Becka, Petr Cermak, Ondrej Sosenka, Patrick Keller and Michal Skvarka.

Petr Bencik, Tomas Buchacek, Jakub Danacik, Vojtech Dlouhy, Petr Kaltofen, Frantisek Kloucek, Stanislav Kozubek, Leopold König, Petr Kubias, Martin Mares and German sprinter Andre Schulze will continue with the team.(PP)

Olympic gold medalist Carrigan retires

Sara Carrigan (Australia) gets the gold in Athens
Photo ©:

Sara Carrigan, 2004 Olympic Champion, announced her retirement from professional cycling. The Australian will focus on her University studies.

"I am excited about my new adventures but it is sad and emotional for me to let go and say good-bye to what has been half my life," Cardigan said. "I'd like to thank everyone for their support; they have helped make me who I am today."

The 28-year-old represented Australia at eight World Championships, two Commonwealth Games and two Olympic Games. In Athens she claimed gold in the road race and at the 2006 Commonwealth Games she placed third in the time trial. Most recently she rode for the Lotto Bellisol Ladies' Team.

Carrigan was twice the Australian Champion in the road time trial and, apart from 2007 when she took a break from racing, has been on the podium every year since 2001. She placed second in this year's time trial and third in the road race. She also amassed a host of victories in international races around the world.

Carrigan admitted turning the page is hard. "The thought of life as a 'non-full time' athlete is overwhelming but also exciting. It is hard to leave something that I love so much, that has allowed me to achieve one of my life dreams but I am an 'all-or-nothing' person."

Carrigan said that she strived to be the best and once the focus and commitment was gone to achieve it, there was only one consequence. "It is the right time for me to walk away. I am open to the possibility of competing in future competitions but my full time competitiveness is now over."

Her time after the Olympics in Beijing was rather quiet. "I've been able to relax and breathe again after the very intense period of pre-Games focus."

She still had some successes this year, winning a stage in the Jayco Bay Series Classic. She also finished second in the national time trial championships.

Carrigan will now focus on completing her Bachelor of Business degree (majoring in Property and Development) at Griffith University in Queensland.

"I have discovered an enthusiasm and a passion for the property industry so I will move forward with that," she said. "But I will also continue to speak at schools as part of the Gold Medal Messages Program and perhaps start a 'riding school' to teach both young and new riders the rules of the road and technical aspects of riding a bike."

The biggest moments of 2008: Ten-to-six

Alessandro Ballan celebrates his solo win at home
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

With the podiums stashed away and the riders enjoying their holidays, as the season finally comes to a close, Cyclingnews' Greg Johnson and Les Clarke look back on season 2008 with fond memories and light hearts. Here's their top 10 biggest moments from the year that was 2008.

Italy's record at the World Championships has hardly been disappointing of late, but it wanted redemption after losing on home soil in Verona four years ago. So to ensure another Spaniard, or anyone else for that matter, didn't shame them when the World Championships returned to Italy - this time in Varese - this year, they decided to dominate the race.

Enter Alessandro Ballan, Damiano Cunego and Davide Rebellin. Ballan left nothing to chance after falling short in the sprint to Paris-Roubaix glory earlier in the year, gapping his rivals to take a comfortable three-second advantage. Cunego's second place only added to the euphoria amongst the home crowd, while Rebellin narrowly missed out on third place to take fourth. Not bad for a 37-year-old.

Read the first part.

Van Bon continues his voyage with Marco Polo

By Steve Thomas

Leon van Bon with his Trek bike
Photo ©: Francis Cerny
(Click for larger image)

Former Tour de France stage winner Leon van Bon has extended his racing contract with the Trek - Marco Polo Cycling Team for 2009, following on from his debut season with the globe trotting continental team in 2008. He will race at least another season with the team in various races in both Asia and in other parts of the world, including on home territory in Europe.

His long and varied experience of racing at the highest professional level with major teams, and in both the Classics and Grand Tours, will be an invaluable asset in the team's mission. The mission to develop bright young Asian cycling talents, all as a part of his designated role as team captain.

"I had a very nice season in 2008, we race a great programme and there is not much pressure from the team, so I can combine it well with my other activities," Van Bon said. He is also racing the Six Day races on the track during the winter time, and in his newly "scaled down travelling career" has taken up photography, grasping the traveling opportunity to take pictures.

Team Manager Guido Kramer welcomed his decision to continue racing. "Of course the team is very happy with his decision to stay on board. Not only because of the extra publicity and status he offers to the team, but mainly because of his experience, which he uses well to teach our Asian riders. He is a perfect role model for the young riders who learn a lot from him."

Other riders that will be staying with the Trek - Marco Polo Cycling Team for 2009 will include Fuyu Li, Xing Yan Dong and the new Chinese Champion, Liu Yili. Also staying in the teal blue racing colours are Japanese riders Genta Nakamura, Toyohiro Oka and Yu Takenouchi. Their compatriot Yuuya Asaki will be joining the team in 2009.

Malaysian long-term team member Loh Sea Keong, who won a stage in the Tour of Thailand, continues for the new season. Other new riders to the team include Eric van de Meent from the Netherlands, James Spragg from England (second in the U23 British Championship 2006) and South African top-talent Jacques Janse van Rensburg (Winner U23 classification and third overall Giro del Capo). More riders, including two Chinese athletes, will be confirmed soon.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Francis Cerny

List of Professional Continental teams for 2009

After reviewing the documents which teams had to submit by December 1, the UCI (Union Cycliste International) has made its initial recommendation on which team will receive a Professional Continental license, and which teams won't in 2009.

Elk Haus, Vorarlberg - Corratec, Landbouwkrediet - Colnago, Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator, PSK Whirlpool - Author, Andalucia Cajasur, Xacobeo Galicia, Agritubel, Barloworld, Ceramica Flaminia - Bossini Docce, CSF Group - Navigare, Acqua & Sapone - Caffe Mokambo, ISD, Skil-Shimano, Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team, Cervélo Test Team, BMC and Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni - Androni Giocattoli will receive a license.

While applications of five teams have been denied, the last word is not spoken yet. The deadline for resubmitting the material to the UCI is December 5.LPR Brakes is hopeful to get the license still. The same is true for Murcia - Contentpolis AMPO, which had initially struggled to secure the sponsorship money by the December 1 deadline. However, the government of Murcia has since followed through. H20 and Amica Chips - Knauf, on the other hand, look in limbo, while Rock Racing decided it was not actually interested in the license upgrade.

USA Cycling cyclo-cross National Calendar standings

The 32nd race on the USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Calendar, the Bay State Cyclo-cross, saw Jamey Driscoll ( earn the elite men's title in the UCI category-two race. Maureen Bruno-Roy (MM Racing-Seven Cycles) won the elite women's contest.

Todd Wells (GT) and Troy Wells (Team Cliff Bar) split a pair of pro men's victories at the Carousel Volkswagen Jingle Cross Rock over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in Iowa City, Iowa. Devon Haskell earned the women's pro win on Saturday and Amanda Miller (Mesa Cycles) brought home the title in Sunday's race.

After 34 contests on the USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Calendar, the current standings are as follows:

Men's Standings

1 Ryan Trebon            440 pts
2 Jeremy Powers          427
3 Todd Wells             372
4 Tim Johnson            356
5 Jamey Driscoll         340

Women's Standings

1 Georgia Gould          199 pts
2 Maureen Bruno-Roy      161
3 Laura Van Gilder       154
4 Natasha Elliott        145
5 Diedre Winfield        135

The final five races on the USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Calendar before the USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships will take place December 6 and 7. The USGP of Cyclo-cross - Portland will mark the calendar's final category-one contest on Saturday, followed by Sunday's category-two event in Oregon. The NBX Grand Prix #1 and #2 will go off in Warwick, Rhode Island, over the weekend, while the Capital Cross Classic will take place in Reston, Virginia, on Sunday.

Hire a professional at the California BikeFest

The California BikeFest offers the chance to ride with a professional as part of the Cycling Sherpa programme. Cycling Sherpas are past and current professional cyclists who are 'for hire' for the rides in Ventura, California, on Saturday, December 6, 2008 starting at the Crowne Plaza, Ventura Beach.

Pros include: Three-time US Pro Champion "Fast" Freddie Rodriguez, current US Pro Crit Champion Rahsaan Bahati, Ivan Dominguez, Aaron Olson and others. The bidding ends at midnight, Pacific Standard Time, on Wednesday, December 3.

Cycling Sherpas are offering their domestique services to the highest bidder for the day, with all proceeds benefiting Breakaway from Cancer – a national initiative created by Amgen to increase awareness of the important resources available to cancer patients from prevention to education, and patient care to advocacy and financial support.

The 2008 California BikeFest offers other activities during the day, such as bike education, exhibits, organised rides or a unique cyclo-cross endurance race at the Ventura County Fairgrounds. The entry is free.

Now online: 2008 Cyclingnews reader poll

(Click for larger image)

It's that time of year again... the 2008 Cyclingnews reader poll is now online. Each year, we give you the chance to select the riders, teams, races, moments, equipment and photos that have really stood out from the pack in the last 12 months or so. To keep things simple, we'll be asking you to vote from a fixed selection in each category, as well as some 'free text' fields, so the survey should take you less than 10 minutes to complete.

As an incentive, we'll be giving away a pair of Zipp's 81mm deep 808 tubular wheels on the new 88/188 hub to one lucky entrant... So if you want to fly Fabian Cancellara this Christmas, let us know your thoughts on the rider of the year!

(Additional editorial assistance by Susan Westemeyer, Gregor Brown and Patrik Patek.)

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