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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News, December 9, 2008

Edited by Bjorn Haake

Boonen also on Ecstasy?

Tom Boonen may have used cocaine and ecstasy
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Tom Boonen used not only cocaine but also the party drug Ecstasy, according to the Gazet van Antwerpen. The sprinter's attorney has protested that his client is not being handled fairly.

Boonen tested positive for cocaine at an out-of-competition test the end of May. He denied having used the drug, but reported that a hair-sample test showed that he used the drug "often" over a period of months.

According to the Gazet van Antwerpen, tests show that he used Ecstasy, also known as XTC or MDMA, which is an amphetamine and psychedelic drug.

Boonen's attorney, Johnny Maeschalck, has not yet seen the file. "But it is clear that Boonen is not getting the average treatment," he said. "No ordinary Flemish citizen would go to court for this, that is certain."

A decision by the court will be made in early January as to whether to prosecute the 27-year-old Quick Step rider. (SW)

Schleck hearing today

The Luxemburger National Anti-Doping Agency (ALAD) will meet Tuesday evening to discuss the Fränk Schleck case. The CSC Saxo Bank rider admitted wiring nearly 7,000 euro to an account belonging to Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, but Schleck said it was only for training plans.

It is not known whether the agency will make a final decision. According to the, the governing board has three options: it can close the case without further action, it can send it on to the disciplinary committee or it can continue its investigation.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung disclosed in September that Schleck had wired the money for training problems, but the rider has denied that it was in any way doping-related, and that he did not know that Fuentes was involved. The team placed Schleck on inactive status, after he testified before the ALAD the beginning of October. He was racing again in November. (SW)

Tour de France rivals team up for Revolution 4

McEwen and Cooke clash in the final sprint in 2003
Photo: © AFP

The only two Australians who have won the Tour de France's green jersey, Robbie McEwen and Baden Cooke, will team up in the Madison at Revolution 4 in Melbourne on Wednesday, December 17.

At the 2003 Tour de France Robbie McEwen and Baden Cooke went shoulder-to-shoulder down the Champs Elysées in battle for the green jersey of the best sprinter. McEwen wanted to defend his 2002 title and started the final stage in green. But Cooke pipped his rival in Paris to win the jersey by a mere two points.

Five years later the two will perform together as a team. McEwen has been riding the track once a week in preparation for the event. Cooke has instead been focusing on putting in the base miles ahead of joining a new team, Rock Racing, in 2009.

Cooke, a former Australian Madison champion, has some apprehension about his return to the track. "I'm a bit nervous, to be honest. It's been years since I've raced on the track," said Cooke. "They say you never forget how to ride a bike but flying around the boards doing handslings at more than 50 kilometres per hour isn't exactly a natural act."

Hopefully for Cooke, old habits die hard. "The Madison was one of my best disciplines on the track. It's a race where you need to be tactically good and you need to be able to muscle your way around the track and Robbie and I are among the best at doing that."

Among their main challengers will be Graeme Brown, an Olympic Games gold medalist in the Madison (in Athens). Brown, who has a reputation for being a little unpredictable, will ride with Cameron Meyer. "Hopefully Graeme is not too erratic. If he can ride a reasonably straight line that would be a positive," said Cooke. "We all know how to throw a hook but there's no need to put people's lives in danger."

Cooke is also well aware of the many rising stars of Australian cycling. "I've seen some of these young guys and they're fast as hell," said Cooke. "Some of these guys, like Leigh Howard, will be coming in with smoking hot form and they will be difficult to beat but we certainly won't be lying down. I won't be giving them any free runs."

The Revolution event that was held just prior to Christmas of 2007 was a sell-out and the same is expected of this year's edition.

Sastre to receive French medal of youth and sports

Carlos Sastre joins other cycling greats to win French medal
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre will receive the French medal of youth and sports. The CSC Saxo Bank rider is one of 25 Spanish athletes to be recognised by the French Embassy. Other Spaniards who will receive the award in the cycling category include Miguel Indurain, Pedro Delgado and Óscar Pereiro, all former Tour de France winners.

The ceremony will be held on Wednesday, December 10, in the residence of French ambassador Bruno Delaye in Madrid. The event is supported by the European Union.

The ambassador emphasised the importance of the award. "This is to honour the great Spanish athletes, who have – since 1986, when Spain joined the European Community – achieved great successes, have made us dream and have shared their values about solidarity, fraternity, team spirit and [becoming united] with all Europeans."

Secretary of Sports of both France and Spain will lead through the ceremony. Ambassadors to Spain of every country in the European Union will also attend. Several Spanish sports greats will be honoured, such as a cycling great Federico Martín Bahamontes, football legends Alfredo Di Stéfano and Andoni Zubizarreta, motorbike rider Angel Nieto and Eduardo Inda.

Simeoni at Giro presentation

Filippo Simeoni would love to win a Giro stage in the Italian colours
Photo ©: Start Communication
(Click for larger image)

Filippo Simeoni will attend the Giro d'Italia presentation in Venice on Saturday. The reigning Italian road champion was looking forward to the race in May.

"I won't be missing this event [the presentation] for the Centenario [100-year anniversary - ed.]," Simeoni said. "I'd be really delighted to compete with the maglia tricolore and my team, Ceramica Flaminia - Bossini Docce. After achieving my dream of winning the national title, I have another dream – to win a stage in the Giro with the Italian National Champion jersey."

But Simeoni will have to wait and see if his team gets to participate. "I hope the organisers will make me happy and invite the team. If Lance Armstrong will be at the presentation with his project of solidarity in the fight against cancer, I would also like to [participate] in the campaign to donate blood."

Simoni has been keeping busy this off-season. Last Sunday, Simeoni he rode the course that will be used for the 2010 junior World Championships in Offida, province of Ascoli Piceno. "It is a fantastic route, very challenging and selective. The winner will have to be very strong. I won in Offida in the amateur category, leaving behind all my rivals. At that occasion, the finish was in the historical centre, on the beautiful Piazza del Popolo."

Gianni Spaccasassi, the president of the Società Ciclistica Amatori (Amateur Cycling Union) of Offida, is looking forward to the event. "We are prepared to give everyone a warm welcome. Our city is the ideal destination for tourism of all facets – sports, history, gastronomy..."


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Start Communication

OUCH Sports Medical Center takes over sponsorship for HealthNet

OUCH Sports Medical Center takes over HealthNet and supports Floyd Landis
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

OUCH Sports Medical Center of Temecula, California, will take over title sponsorship of the Health Net Pro Cycling Team presented by Maxxis for the 2009 season. The team will be known as OUCH presented by Maxxis next year.

The squad had been sponsored by HealthNet since 2003. Brent Kay, the OUCH's co-founder, noted that the clinic chose to sponsor the team for several reasons, including to support one of the clinic's most prominent patients, Floyd Landis.

"We're very excited to be sponsoring the team in 2009," Kay said. "In part we want to use the sponsorship to help support Floyd's comeback from hip resurfacing surgery. I've been with Floyd as his physician since the crash in January 2003 that led to his needing the surgery. The clinic has helped with his rehabilitation and return to professional cycling. Part of me lives in that hip, I guess."

Landis chose to have surgery on his hip in the off-season following the 2006 Tour de France. He won the Tour that year, but his title was taken away following a postive test for testosterone.

Kay also said that there is a bigger, broader reason for sponsoring the team. "My partner, Jerry Hizon, and I would like to use the team as a platform to launch an educational branch of the Center to get more information out to athletes and the general public about osteoarthritis," he said.

He noted that part of the reason Landis required his surgery was that he developed osteoarthritis in his broken hip. "Osteoarthritis is a remarkably common ailment," Kay said, adding that recent studies have determined that up to half of the population may have knee abnormalities associated with osteoarthritis, though they might not display symptoms. The Arthritis Foundation noted that 27 million Americans live with osteoarthritis.

"We really want to get the message out about osteoarthritis, and how to treat and live with it," Kay said. He added that the Center will be hosting conferences and distributing information about the ailment through the Center's website, "Osteoarthritis is a normal process as we age," he added. "There are a lot of ways to live with it and treat it."

As a southern California-based Center, the Amgen Tour of California will be a big event for the team and the Center, Kay said. "It will be Floyd's first race back in the professional peloton. He's been doing great and his hip has performed really well. In some respects, he's doing even better than before because his arthritic hip was a disaster, in 2005 in particular. So we're really looking forward to seeing the Bionic Man back out there racing, and demonstrating that you can effectively treat and live with osteoarthritis."

Thierry Attias, President of Momentum Sports Group, which operates the team, welcomed the addition of OUCH as the team's title sponsor. "It's good to have another healthcare-related organisation as the team's top sponsor," Attias said. "OUCH will carry on with what Health Net started, promoting healthy lifestyles through the sport and activity of cycling. The team intends to do everything we can to help OUCH educate the public about osteoarthritis, its treatment and how including cycling can help manage the effects of the disease."

Katusha's first training camp in Italy

Katusha will have its first training camp of the 2009 season in Marina di Bibbona (Livorno), Italy. The camp of Russian Professional Continental team will run from December 9 to 19.

The camp will focus medical checks and the fitting of clothing and bicycles. There will also be an emphasis on getting to know each other.

Bikes & Gear magazine: The essential 2009 preview guide

Bikes & Gear magazine: The essential 2009 preview guide
Photo ©: Future Publishing
(Click for larger image)

Now is the time of year when many of us start thinking and dreaming of the bikes and gear that we want to buy in time for the start of the season. Bike companies produce a wonderful array of products which we all get excited about owning.

To help you make a more informed buying decision and produced a magazine that gives you an insight into the bikes and gear that'll be available in 2009. The Bikes & Gear 2009 Preview is the essential guide to the newest, coolest and most technologically advanced bikes, wheels and gear for the 2009 season.

Industry insiders attend the yearly unveiling of new products at events such as Eurobike and Interbike. This guide will give you the opportunity to see some of the same wonderful bikes and gear that they viewed there.

The editors assembled a mix of both road and mountain bikes and components. You'll see the bikes the pros ride both on and off roads but also a huge line of bikes encompassing all price ranges in both disciplines and as a bonus, they included women's, kids' and cyclo-cross bikes, too.

It's a must-read. Find out more and order your copy.

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 like Fabian Cancellara this Christmas, let us know your thoughts on the rider of the year!

(Additional editorial assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer)

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