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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News, December 15, 2008

Edited by Bjorn Haake

German TV must broadcast Tour says EBU chief

Says Armstrong's return increases pressure on German TV, wants retests

By Shane Stokes

Doping – No Thanks. Germany singles out cycling
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

European Broadcasting Union President Fritz Pleitgen has reiterated comments made earlier this year, stating that he believes that the contract between Tour de France organisers ASO and German TV broadcasters ARD and ZDF is a valid one.

"We have a firm position concerning the contract, the agreement we have signed with ASO," he told Cyclingnews, referring to the agreement the EBU negotiated on behalf of its members. "We are sure it is binding and we have let our partners ARD know that this is the case."

ARD and ZDF originally announced on October 16 that, because of the continued doping scandals associated with cycling, they would ditch their plans to screen the race in 2009. Both had previously pulled out of coverage of the 2007 Tour when Patrick Sinkewitz (T-Mobile) was announced as being positive. They returned to coverage of the race this season and negotiated, via the EBU, to show the Tour de France again from 2009 to 2011.

Single news edition on

Starting Tuesday, December 16, there will be only one daily edition of news through the holidays. The regular news schedule will resume on January 5, 2009.

However, the CERA positives of Gerolsteiner riders Stefan Schumacher and Bernhard Kohl caused a rethink. ARD shelved its plans and ZDF stated it couldn't go it alone.

"ARD came out with a joint bid with ZDF, so if they want to come back to this, then they have to do this together with ZDF," said Pleitgen. "I think they are already in contact with ZDF but I do not know how far they got. ZDF has a firm view on this and says that this agreement is binding for both."

Both broadcasters are understood to have clauses in the contract requiring the Tour de France to employ "the most modern anti-doping controls" available. As Tour organisers introduced first-time tests for CERA this year, it is uncertain as to whether ARD would win a case stating otherwise.

Pleitgen does acknowledge that both broadcasters are in a difficult situation due to political and media pressure in Germany. He states that Lance Armstrong's return to the Tour further complicates matters; in 2005 ASO stated that it believed the American had serious questions to answer about retests, which it said showed that he used EPO in the 1999 race. However, the organiser now appears willing to let the Astana rider return.

"The situation is not clear, and could become even more complicated in that Lance Armstrong could also compete," stated the EBU president. "That could make it very, very complicated for the Germans, as the pressure will grow. I don't know how they would come out of this situation as, at the time when they signed this contact, there was not the slightest hint that he would start his career again.

"I personally have a lot of respect for him [Armstrong], how he fights cancer, but I have also questions concerning his past. There are still a lot of doubts whether he used performance enhancing medicine or not. As long as this is not clearly revealed and investigated, then it means the situation here in Germany is a very, very complicated one for both ARD and ZDF. If he competes, then the attacks from all the sides, by newspapers and publications and the board members of the stations will increase and make things more difficult."

Pleitgen said that he would recommend that Armstrong either does not compete in the race, or that he agrees to have his samples from previous editions of the Tour retested, thus removing doubts about his victories.

A feature on the German TV situation will appear soon on Cyclingnews.

Savio aims Diquigiovanni for early maglia rosa

By Gregor Brown

Gianni Savio looks for the early lead – if his team gets chosen to ride the Giro
Photo ©: Steve Thomas
(Click for larger image)

Gianni Savio, Team Manager of Diquigiovanni, will direct his riders for the race leader's maglia rosa in the first days of the 2009 Giro d'Italia. He believes the course, presented Saturday night at the Teatro Fenice in Venice, is suited for Davide Rebellin in the early stages and Gilberto Simoni overall.

"In the first stage we could take the maglia rosa with Davide Rebellin," Savio said to Cyclingnews. "In the first few stages with climbs, including Alpe di Siusi, there will be a difference made. If we can do well in the team time trial, not losing much, then Davide Rebellin could recover [the time] on these climbs."

The race, May 9 to 31, opens with a 20.5-kilometre team time trial on Venice's lido. After two flat stages, there will be two mountain stages to Martino di Castrozza and Alpe di Siusi. If Rebellin could take the pink leader's jersey here he would be able to maintain it through the following stages.

Rebellin will shift his focus in the second half of the race to stage wins, according to Savio. He will also help with the team's ambitions in the overall classification.

"Rebellin will work for Simoni in the second part of the Giro. ... It is a route for Gilberto Simoni and it is also a course for his right-hand man, Michele Scarponi."

Savio's team enjoyed a win in this year's Giro thanks to Alessandro Bertolini's escape in a group of five on stage 11 to Cesena. His team relies on selection by organiser RCS Sport, in February, to be one of the 22 teams in the 2009 edition.

Sánchez hopes for strong season start

By Antonio J. Salmerón

2005 winner Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Caisse d'Epargne) will return once again Down Under
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

Luis León Sánchez of Caisse d'Epargne will fly to Australia on January 7 to race the Tour Down Under, as he has done in recent years. The Spaniard has always done well in the heat of the southern Hemisphere and even won the overall classification in 2005.

But the past programme may not be the recipe to follow in 2009. "I want to start the season strongly, but not as strong as when I won in 2005. More like last year." Sánchez will not look for his own glory as much, as he races alongside teammate José Joaquín Rojas. "I will try to help him, because Rojas has already shown that can be fighting to win a stage. But contending for the overall classification is also important for me," the 25-year-old said to Cyclingnews.

When he returns to Europe, Sánchez will compete in the Tour Méditerranéen (February 11-15). "I will be there for a better preparation for the Vuelta a la Comunidad Valenciana, which hopefully takes place." Like some other races, the race in Valencia battles to stay alive in a declining economy and with sponsors pulling out due to doping cases.

The Caisse d'Epargne rider will try to reach peak form for Paris-Nice in March. "I will be back again to a spectacular and very competitive race that has given me so much." Sánchez was lying in second overall last year, only three seconds behind Sylvain Chavanel after four stages. He lost too much time on the Ventoux, but fought back to win the final stage into Nice.

His later programme will depend on how he can recover from March Madness. "Depending on how I feel in April, I will take a decision on my participation in the Vuelta al País Vasco." He also targets the Dauphiné Libéré in June, as preparation for the Tour de France. "I will be there for giving support to my team leaders, as always. I already have a stage victory in the Tour, in Aurillac, and that gives me great confidence. But the Tour de France will take place in more than seven months, so now it is too early [for predictions]."

US National cyclo-cross championships decided in bitter cold

By Laura Weislo in Kansas City, Missouri, USA

The US National cyclo-cross champions were crowned in freezing temperatures over the past weekend. Sunday was the highlight of the event, with the elite men and women battling it out.

A strong cold front moved through just hours before the start of the elite races, pushing away the warm temperatures enjoyed by the early morning racers. By the time the women took to the course, wind chills were well below freezing.

In the men's race, the first lap looked more like a criterium than a cyclo-cross race as riders streamed single-file up the hill at the Tiffany Springs Park. Trebon, riding for Kona-FSA, rode patiently inside the top 10 from the start as Andy Jacques-Maynes (Specialized/KMC California Giant Berry) battled for the hole shot ahead of Jonathan Page (Planet Bike).

Cyclingnews was at all events. The men and women races had some surprises to offer.

Nys Belgian male athlete of the year

Belgian Sven Nys, 32, takes his country's honour for athlete of the year.
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Sven Nys was named male athlete of the year in Belgium this weekend, as the first cyclo-cross rider ever so honoured in his country. The awards were voted by Belgian journalists.

"I am not often nervous, but I am now. I have clammy hands," the 32-year-old said after accepting his award, according to "For 10 years I have fought hard to stand here.

"I want to encourage all children who dream of being a top athlete to persevere," Nys added. "It is the most beautiful thing that there is. Try to make your dream come true."

Nys won with 513 votes, far ahead of Stijn Devolder of Quick Step with 295 votes. Tom Boonen, also of Quick Step, was fifth, with 215 votes.(SW)


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Roberto Bettini/

Wegmann still disappointed

Fabian Wegmann is disappointed with Schumacher and Kohl
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

The past season was a very disappointing one with a bitter end for Fabian Wegmann, but he looked back fondly on his seven "good years" with Team Gerolsteiner and looked forward to helping German cycling come back to life with his new team, Milram.

He said on his website, that he was still disappointed over the "behaviour of my teammates", presumably Stefan Schumacher and Bernhard Kohl, both of whom tested positive during the the Tour de France, and that he found it difficult to accept an apology. "It was simply a very strong blow, that hit us where it hurts."

The 28-year-old also regretted the way his former boss, Gerolsteiner manager Hans-Michael Holczer has been treated. "Hans is a hardliner against doping, and he did a lot against it. And to lump him together with the dopers is simply too bad and not understandable.

"It was simply a very sad conclusion for our Team Gerolsteiner," Wegmann concluded. "There were 10 years of very good sport, where I think everyone worked cleanly, and then two riders come along and destroy everything in the end."(SW)

Ciolek from snow to sun

Gerald Ciolek prepares with cross training and 'cross weather for 2009
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

Gerald Ciolek is going from one extreme to the other, from the cold and snow of the Alps to the sun and warmth of Mallorca – all in the name of preparing for the coming season with his new team, Team Milram.

The 22-year-old was in the Austrian mountains for nearly two weeks with Milram Directeur Sportif Jochen Hahn and future teammates Linus Gerdemann, Björn Schröder, Artur Gajek and Dominik Roels. "We were able to train pretty well despite temperatures of down to minus 20°C and some bad weather. It was a good change, because you do a little of everything, from hiking to downhill skiing to cross-country skiing to cycling."

Ciolek then had to put his skis away and concentrate on his bike. After a short visit home, he flew to the Milram training camp (December 11-20) on Mallorca. "It will be interesting to see the whole team," he said on his website, "Especially because it is a whole new team. I know most of the people, because the cycling scene is a pretty small world. But I have never been on the same team with most of them before."(SW)

Hoy versus Hamilton cancelled

The much anticipated man versus machine race between Chris Hoy and Formula One racer Lewis Hamilton was called off in the last minute due to bad weather. The rain had made the track in Wembley stadium in London too slippery for Hoy and his skinny cycling wheels. Hoy was race on a bike, while Hamilton would have been using a street car on a parallel track.

Hoy was driven to the start by Hamilton, where Hoy then announced the cancellation in person, according to the Guardian. "I've been advised it would be too dangerous on a bike, it's like black ice out there," Hoy said over the PA system. "It's a huge disappointment and it's a big shame, but I'm delighted to be here."

Hoy, who had voiced his displeasure at the surface earlier in the day, confirmed that the decision was mutual. "It was a joint decision, it was just too dangerous," he said. "It's a shame, but the conditions are just too treacherous. I think about an hour ago really they were doing all they could to get the track safe, but they couldn't and I would have been down at the first corner.

"There were a few accidents in the rain yesterday and there has been some oil spilt on the track as well, so I was advised not to compete," said Hoy. "I was really looking forward to it, and I know Lewis was too."

Webcor/Alto Velo expands

Following a successful 2008 season, the Webcor/AltoVelo racing team is expanding its Elite Amateur Men's team for the upcoming 2009 season. The core of last year's Pro/1/2 team remains intact, and will be bolstered by additions to the roster.

For the 2009 season, the Elite Amateur Men's team will be divided into a National-level "NRC Squad" that will be focused on larger National Racing Calendar (NRC) events all around the United States. Another part of the team will be the "Regional Squad" that will focus on rider development and in-district racing.

The roster for the "NRC Squad" for 2009 will consist of returning riders James Badia, Fabrice Dubost, Rob MacNeill, Rand Miller and Ryan Prsha. They will be joined by new additions Brian Bucholz (from Kelly Benefit Strategies Pro), Justin Fraga (from BPG/Montano Velo) and Ryan Parnes (from Metromint). The full roster will be announced soon on the team's website,

Now online: 2008 Cyclingnews reader poll closing soon!

(Click for larger image)

It's that time of year again... the 2008 Cyclingnews reader poll is now online. The poll will close this Friday, December 19, at midnight GMT. So hurry up and make your choices. The deadline of Friday, December 19, midnight GMT equals Friday, December 19, 19:00 on USA's east coast. If you are in Australia, it will be December 20, 11:00.

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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