First Edition Cycling News, December 9, 2008
Edited by Les Clarke
Boonen court date looms
A spokesperson for the public prosecutor in Turnhout, Belgium, said on Monday that a decision on whether Tom Boonen will face criminal charges would be made on January 6. The 2005 world champion may face court for violating drug laws after testing positive for cocaine earlier this year in an out-of-competition test.
It's uncertain that the 27-year-old Team Quick Step sprinter, who missed the Tour de France due to his infraction, may receive a penalty if he does indeed face court. Possible punishments include a prison term of three months to five years and a fine of 1000 to 100,000 euro.
Boonen's positive test was announced in June and Tour de France organisers let it quickly be known that he was not welcome at the their event. He reiterated his innocence, claiming someone must have spiked his drink at an outdoor cafe shortly before the doping control. However, anonymous sources from within the investigation have said that hair tests have shown he used cocaine "often" over a period of months. (SW)
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Images by AFP Photo
Checking in with Ivan
Ivan Basso has been making headlines recently during Liquigas' mountain retreat. After bringing you the first installment of his new diary on Cyclingnews, the Italian has returned with another journal entry about his latest activities. We sneak a peek at his second entry as he talks about family holidays, team camps and what lies ahead after Christmas. Read on...
Starting the season right
Lately I've been on vacation with my family and attended the first of many team camps. Our week-long holiday in Zanzibar was beautiful, the first vacation I've taken with a clear head, as previous holidays have all been about getting away from my problems. This one was for the family though, and a chance for us to relax. I dedicated all my time to my wife and children and forgot about any work stuff because this would be the last chance to spend a lot of time with them as the season will soon be off and running.
The camp has gone well and I am very happy with my teammates – we were able to find a good rhythm. Like many off-season camps, we did a lot of off-the-bike work; plenty of cross-country skiing, hiking and mountain biking in the snow. It was very different from what we will do at the next camp, which will be focused on the bike. This time together allowed us to gather and enjoy time with work, something that helps us get to know each other better this way. Check out the photos, and you can see we had a lot of fun.
Liquigas is a big team and one of the strongest in the world, and we have a budget to do have these camps. It's far cry from how things used to be. When I made my debut with Riso Scotti  there was only one day set aside in December to hand out the team materials – bikes, racing and casual clothing. We would do a proper camp in January and start racing in February. Now, we have 10 days in Bibione and San Pellegrino, we will do a ten-day camp in Spain, and – whoever goes to Argentina [Tour de San Luis] – will do another 10 days of camp before the race.
Read the full diary.
US Continental teams announced
USA Cycling yesterday announced the 13 squads that have been registered as UCI Continental teams in the United States for the 2009 racing season. In addition to the previously announced Pro Continental squad [BMC Racing] and Pro Tour teams [Garmin-Chipotle & Team Columbia], the US will boast 16 professional cycling teams recognised by the sports international governing body for the 2009 racing season.
US teams receiving Continental status for 2009 include: Amore e Vita/McDonalds/Velo Vie Pro Racing Team, Bissell Pro Cycling, Colavita/Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light, DLP Racing, Jelly Belly Cycling, Kelly Benefit Strategies, Kenda Pro Cycling presented by Spinergy, Land Rover/ORBEA - Benefiting the Lance Armstrong Foundation, OUCH presented by Maxxis, Team Mountain Khakis, Rock Racing, Team Type 1 and Trek LIVESTRONG U23 Team.
The addition of the Amore e Vita-McDonalds-Velo Vie team is an interesting development, as the outfit has traditionally been based in Italy, although registered in Poland, and received support from the Vatican. It will move its registration to the US and look to increase its participation in American races. It's also of particular interest for Australian rider Richard England, who recently spoke to Cyclingnews about his change from the Bissell squad to the 'Love and Life' boys, something that should suit his abilities well. Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for the full chat with this 2008 Tour de Georgia stage winner.
Despite the apparent strength of the scene in the US for next season, well-documented funding issues such as the one surrounding the Tour de Georgia exist. Races and teams have found sponsorship dollars difficult to obtain, and as such many of those Continental teams announced today will operate with smaller budgets and rosters compared to previous years. That also means that riders such as Australians Hilton Clarke, Ben Day, Trent Wilson and Cody Stevenson, who have played their trade successfully in the US for several years, now face an uncertain future in a tight economic environment.
Suspects arrested in 2005 Neliubin murder
Four suspects have been arrested for the January 2005 murder of Olympic Gold medal winner Dmitri Neliubin. The suspects are said to come from the Russian Republic of Kabardino-Balkar, according to the sid press agency. Further details were not available.
Neliubin won the gold medal in the team pursuit in Seoul in 1988,when he was only 17. He rode professionally from 1993 to 1997. During traditional New Year celebrations on January 1, 2005, he was stabbed after a run-in with a group of drunks, and died a few hours later in hospital. (SW)
Hong Kong riders to compete in Tasmania
The Hong Kong Cycling Association has agreed to send a team of eight cyclists to the Basslink Tasmanian Christmas Carnivals later this month. The news deepens an already-strong international field, especially with the presence of the seasoned and celebrated Kam Po Wong.
He'll be joined by recent world cup gold medalist Ho Ting Kwok and six others, all of whom are sure to be in the running for some good results in the Apple Isle. The team will ride seven of the Tasmanian carnivals including the Rosebery, Hobart and St Helens events.
Kam Po Wong is the 2007 scratch race world champion and followed that up with victory in the scratch event at the world cup event in Los Angeles earlier this year. He was the first Chinese cyclist to win an individual world championship title and carried the Olympic flag for Hong Kong China at the Beijing Olympics in August.
Wong will be the first individual track endurance world champion to appear at the carnivals since Gary Sutton (points race world champion) rode in the early 1980s. Other riders in the Hong Kong Team include Xiao Juan Diao, Wai Sze Lee, Wan Yui Jamie Wong, Zhao Juan Meng, Kin Chung Wong and Xu Grang.
New team for Vos
Olympic gold medalist and multi-discipline world champion Marianne Vos will ride for a new road team in 2009. Her DSB Bank squad and the Dutch Vrienden van het Platteland ('Friends of the Countryside' – a Dutch regional organisation) team will merge to create an as-yet unnamed outfit that reflects the composition of these two squads.
Similarly to Nicole Cooke, whose team was assembled around her to help guide the Welsh rider to Olympic and world championships glory this year, this new squad is geared to assist Vos in her endeavours on the road. She's undoubtedly the star of the show, with her management company, Zeloo Sports, having a hand in organising the merger.
LTO Netherlands, the main sponsor of the Vrienden van het Platteland team, will be launching a new communication campaign next year, and will use the opportunity for branding to assist its cause and this new squad. It will be a main sponsor – in addition to DSB Bank – and feature on the riders' clothing.
The 21-year-old Vos welcomed this latest development, saying, "The commitments made to the new team will be enjoyed when they are delivered. Cooperation with Vrienden van het Platteland in 2009 makes it possible to run a complete programme and they also have a few strong riders in that team."
The team for 2009 consists of Marianne Vos, Angela Hennig, Adrie Visser, Annemiek van Vleuten, Liesbet de Vocht, Tina Liebig, Liesbeth Bakker, Noortje Tabak, Daisy van der Aa, Josephiene Groenveld, Bertine Spijkerman, Elke Gebhart, Agnieta Franken, Marieke van Wanroij, Janneke Kanis and track rider Yvonne Hijgenaar.
New Spanish continental team takes shape
A new ECP Continental Professional cycling project will be led by the ex-professional Melchor Mauri and Domenec Carbonell, who directed the U23 Aluminis Sant Jordi squad in 2008. According to Biciciclismo, it will be sponsored by the Government of Andorra and will be registered in its state federation (Sprint Club Andorra), although managers are still negotiating with a company settled in the Pyrenean country. All the necessary documentation will be sent to the International Cycling Union (UCI) this week.
There are 11 riders signed to ride, five of whom will debut next season: Jaume Rovira, Carles Torrent, Ángel Vallejo, Raúl García de Mateos, Egoitz García, Francisco Javier Carrasco, Eduard Prades, Raúl García de Mateos, Aitor Aznar, Arnau Mendez and David de la Cruz.
Team management is negotiating with the local track specialist Sergi Escobar, who was racing for the defunct Grupo Nicolás Mateos-Murcia team in 2007, as well as with the Ukrainian Dmitri Chuzdha (Oleg Chuzdha's brother), who comes from the U23 Cosaor team. (AS)
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, Ben Atkins and Antonio J. Salmerón.)
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2008)