Latest Cycling News, December 8, 2008
Edited by Gregor Brown
Catlin fills ACE void for Columbia and Garmin
By Daniel Benson
Team Columbia and Garmin Chipotle have confirmed they will be using leading anti-doping scientist Don Catlin and the Anti-Doping Sciences Institute (ADSI) for their internal testing programmes for next year.
Columbia Team Manager Bob Stapleton said to Cyclingnews that he initially approached Catlin and the anti-doping institute before working with Agency for Cycling Ethics (ACE). However once ACE went out of business working with Catlin became an easy choice.
"I tried to push ACE to work with him last year but I'm really excited to work with such a smart guy who has a real background in this line of work. What impressed me was his interest in supporting clean athletes. I really like that," said Stapleton.
Both USA-based teams will share all their stored data with Catlin. "We will be working with Garmin to bring the programme together. The direction is quite different to ACE as the UCI [International Cycling Union - ed.] now have the biological passport in place, and we've already done a lot of baseline testing. We have a complete database on our athletes. That's a pretty powerful tool with a year or more of history."
Catlin will target the testing - to be done by labs selected and contracted by ADSI - based on rider history, lab results and race programmes in order to determine who will be tested and when. Blood and urine tests will be performed with the goal of detecting EPO, CERA, steriods and other drugs as well as developing profiles for longitudinal blood markers and steroid levels.
Garmin Team Manager Jonathan Vaughters confirmed that Catlin would go further than UCI testing and that this step was a natural one for both teams. "Both Bob and I sat down and discussed this at length. We weighed up the pros and cons for each option but both teams share a similar philosophy on anti-doping, so it was a good direction to move in.
"Don Catlin isn't restrained by so much protocol when it comes to testing, he can look at results and test for drugs that aren't even on the market and can then come to us and say 'the results for this guy are very strange' and from there we can act," he said.
Vaughters also confirmed that Catlin would have full access to the UCI's biological passport programme and that both anti-doping bodies would work with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the ADAMS whereabouts system. He also confirmed that Catlin had already tested his riders in November in order to build up his own off-season profiles. The results of Catlin's testing will be made available to both the UCI and WADA.
Garmin rider Will Frischkorn said that Catlin's work would go further than the tests run by the UCI. "They'll be running full bio-marker testing and looking for drugs and blood modifiers in a far more rigorous manner than the UCI. At this stage I think we'll be tested on a monthly basis."
One of Columbia's newest recruits, Mark Renshaw, shared the general optimism for the future. "It's going to be interesting to see what [Catlin] can bring but it's good that both teams are using him, but I'd be a lot happier if everyone in the peloton was under the same rules and testing," he said.
Team Columbia estimated that the program would collect about 600 test samples from its riders during the season.
Petacchi rules out Hondo, welcomes Ongarato
By Gregor Brown
Sprinter Alessandro Petacchi ruled out Team LPR signing German Danilo Hondo. The Italian from La Spezia indicated that there is room for one more rider, and that he would like it to be his teammate for the last five years, Alberto Ongarato.
"If there is the possibility, we will take on [Alberto] Ongarato, but not Hondo," said Petacchi to Cyclingnews.
Petacchi joined Team LPR mid-way through 2008 after finishing a ban for the over-use of Salbutamol, an asthma drug. He bounced back immediately with three stages in the Tour of Britain, the Memorial Viviana Manservisi and the GP Beghelli.
He is working with Team Manager Fabio Bordonali to bring on Ongarato. The duo raced together at Teams Fassa Bortolo and Milram.
"It is not that [Hondo] is not a good rider – he would be a good addition – but Ongarato has been my teammate for years and if there is the possibility, with the expertise that he has, I think that it would be more important to have a rider like him."
Petacchi indicated that he will have a strong team with Claudio Cucinotta, Lorenzo Bernucci and Giairo Ermeti as the core to his sprint lead-out.
Hondo rode with Team Diquigiovanni this season where he earned several placings and a stage win in the Tour de Langkawi. He has been linked with Polish Continental team, Team Corratec, for 2009.
Destiny and third Giro calling for Simoni
Gilberto Simoni is determined to win a third Giro d'Italia in 2009. The Italian of Team Diquigiovanni will face younger opponents in what experts consider one of the most hotly contested editions in years.
"I will give it my all, then put my trust in destiny," said Simoni, 37, to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "The truth is that I always believed in my legs and head, but not destiny. I have changed this idea. Destiny alone is not enough, you need help. I will try to help it along."
Race organiser RCS Sport will unveil the Giro route, May 9 to 31, this Saturday. It will feature high mountain passes with steep pitches and challenging city-centre finishes, but the list of riders set to attend is impressive. Lance Armstrong, seven-time Tour de France champion, announced his intention to race in October. There are also the likes of Carlos Sastre – the current Tour champion – and past Giro d'Italia winners Ivan Basso, Danilo Di Luca, Damiano Cunego and Denis Menchov.
Simoni captured his two Giro di Italia wins in 2001 and 2003. He finished 10th behind winner Alberto Contador in this year. Next year, six years after his last win, could be his last chance to obtain a third maglia rosa and join a short list of five triple winners.
"I am not in a hurry; I know that once I am in the saddle I will not get back off of it for eight to ten months. ... I will seek heat in Malaysia, Mexico. Then the [Giro del] Trentino."
Simoni indicated that he will accompany the team's new signee and one-day specialist, Davide Rebellin, to the Ardennes Classics in April. He intends to act as domestique to Rebellin prior to taking up the captain role in the Giro d'Italia.
A winning formula once again?
The legendary film The Blues Brothers was centred around 'getting the band back together'. With the addition of Lance Armstrong, Astana's 2009 squad could use this as its mantra. Procycling editor Peter Cossins headed to the Spanish island of Tenerife and discovered that next season's Astana isn't just Discovery Channel Version II.
Although Lance Armstrong understandably garnered most of the media attention during the two days that Astana gave open access to its pre-season get-together this week in Tenerife, the Kazakh-backed team is a whole lot more than Discovery Channel mark two. Back in the not-so-distant days when Armstrong was dominating the Tour de France, Discovery (and previously US Postal) made no secret of the fact that almost all of their eggs were loaded into one Armstrong-bearing basket, and their success depended very much on what he achieved. But now that he's back, things look very different in his new squad.
More than Postal or Discovery, this team most resembles T-Mobile circa 2004. After a year with Team Coast, Jan Ullrich returned to what had been his long-time home to join an extremely illustrious group of riders, notably Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Santiago Botero, Oscar Sevilla and Cadel Evans. Armstrong said himself that that team had "too many chiefs and not enough indians". So can the same label be applied to Astana going into 2009?
The answer is not a definite 'no', but it's close to it. Armstrong stated again and again in Tenerife that he had no problem working for other riders at the major tours this season, that events on the road will decide. However, he did admit that he thought "the strongest rider in the world at the moment", Alberto Contador, was having trouble coming to terms with the threat to his pre-eminence within the team. There have been indications that the Spaniard has been looking for a way out of the contract that binds him to Astana boss Johan Bruyneel to the end of 2010, but he's sticking where he is for now.
Read the full Astana feature, A winning formula once again?
Reus starts in Australia
Kai Reus of Team Rabobank is ready to restart his cycling career at the age of 23. The Dutchman is ready to rejoin the ProTour team and face the top races after recovering from a serious accident in July 2006.
Reus suffered head injuries in a training crash in July 2006. Doctors subsequently placed him in an induced coma for 12 days.
Last season, Reus rode for the Dutch Rabobank Continental team and joined the ProTour team for the Tour of Missouri.
"I had trained very little in the build up, but I could ride along very well," he said to rabosport.nl. He then rode the Tour du Poitou-Charentes "where things went better. Afterwards, I spoke with team management and we agreed that I would take the step up to the pros" in 2009.
Reus will open his season directly with the first ProTour race, the Tour Down Under. It seems early, he acknowledged, but it will allow everyone involved to see right off where he stands. He knows that there is still a long way to go, and despite his impatience to jump right back in, he and the team are willing to examine things from month to month.
The Tour Down Under will also let him race against another rider making a comeback, Lance Armstrong. Reus called it "a funny coincidence. I can at least say that I have ridden with him in the peloton. I don't think there will be many more chances."
Reus isn't sure of his racing programme for the nest season. He will not race the Giro d'Italia or the Tour de France, but believes there is a chance to race the Vuelta a España, depending on how his season develops.
"I find it all very exciting," he said of 2009. "I am really intensely looking forward to it." (SW)
Bartko and Zabel: A "Dream Team" in Berlin
Robert Bartko and Erik Zabel will ride the Berlin Six Day race together, only the second time they have teamed for such a race. It will mark Zabel's debut in his hometown Six Day race and his final race in a 16-year professional career.
"It is really something special for me to ride with him in his last race and in Berlin," Bartko said to rad-net.de.
The race, January 22 to 27, will be the final track or road event for Germany's Zabel. He ends a career that is highlighted with many sprint wins, including victories in Milano-Sanremo, Paris-Tours and the Tour de France. He recently announced that he will serve as an advisor to Team Columbia in the coming season.
"That is exactly the right pair – two Berlin boys, fighting for the win," said Organiser Heinz Seesing.
Zabel and Bartko recently faced each other in the Munich Six Day race, which Bartko and partner Iljo Keisse won by only four points ahead of Zabel and Leif Lampater. The loss left Zabel upset.
"We are professional enough to accept the organiser's wish for how the teams are put together, because we know that a lot depends on it," Zabel said.
Bartko and Zabel previously rode together in the Munich Six Day race in 2005, which they won. (SW)
Haselbacher back to Austria with Vorarlberg
Austrian Rene Haselbacher will ride for a 'home' team in 2009 for the first time since 1998. He joins Professional Continental Team Vorarlberg-Corratec after two years with Team Astana.
"I am very happy about it," said the 31-year-old to LaOla1.at. He signed a one-year contract.
Haselbacher, who lives in Vienna, rode for the Austrian elite teams Elk Haus and Tel-Mineralwolle from 1996 to 1998. In 1999 he joined Team Gerolsteiner, where he stayed for eight seasons before joining Team Astana in 2007.
This season he won the fifth stage of the Tour of Austria. (SW)
Steensen learns from hard debut
André Steensen of Team CSC Saxo Bank had a tough first year in the professional ranks. Injuries and crashes filled the year, but he can see the positive side of it all and is looking forward to a healthier 2009 season with Team Saxo Bank.
"It's been a rough season with lots of accidents and injuries," the 21-year-old said to teamcsc-saxobank.com. "I've come out on the other side a lot wiser on how to deal with adversity."
Steensen closed out the season with a broken wrist suffered in a crash in the Circuit Franco-Belge in October. It has healed enough and gave him no problems at the team's training camp last month.
The Dane started out last season with the team Glud & Marstrand Horsens before joining CSC in May. (SW)
Now online: 2008 Cyclingnews reader poll
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 like Fabian Cancellara this Christmas, let us know your thoughts on the rider of the year!
(Additional editorial assistance by Susan Westemeyer.)
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2008)