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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News, February 3, 2008

Edited by Steve Medcroft

Boonen takes fourteenth Qatar stage win, second GC title

By Shane Stokes in Doha

Tom Boonen (Quick Step) taking another one
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)
Finishing the Tour of Qatar in fine style, Tom Boonen thundered down the Doha Corniche to nab his third individual stage win of the week, the fourteenth individual stage of his career and his second overall classification victory in three years.

The 27 year-old beat stage four victor Alberto Loddo (Tinkoff Credit Systems), Brazilian sprinter Luciano Pagliarini (Saunier Duval) and 37 others to the line, with the rest of the field finishing further back in dribs and drabs, fatigued from a very windy day and also a very quick six days of competition.

Those closest to him in the general classification, namely Quick Step team-mate Steven De Jongh and Greg Van Avermaet (Silence Lotto) were sixth and 21st respectively. Once Boonen's ten-second time bonus was factored into the GC time, the 2005 world road race champion ended the 2.1-ranked race 27" ahead of De Jongh and 46" up on Van Avermaet.

Australian rider Chris Sutton (Slipstream Chipotle-H3O) was fourth overall, 46" back, while Jurgen Roelandts (Silence-Lotto) and Alexandre Pichot (Bouygues Telecom) were fifth and sixth.

Boonen dominated the points classification as well and his Quick Step squad were clear winners in the team competition. "It is good that we are this strong early in the season," he stated. "We did a good job, because after winning a lot of stages in recent years, it becomes a habit to win here. If it doesn't happen, you might start to worry."

Boonen has taken 14 stage wins in all, Quick Step have landed two team time trial victories and the team have won the past three editions. The Tour of Qatar suits the riders' abilities from the point of view of the high speeds, flat terrain and strong winds, and it's clearly a race they like to do well in.

"It is good to compete here," continued Boonen. "It is good training, it is not too hard. There are strong teams here and that creates good competition. The race has teams that are have a lot of experience in the wind like Lotto, Liquigas and Lampre. As you can see in these stages, our team is going really well and these kind of races are our specialty. We show it here every year."

See the full results, race report and photos from stage 6 of the Tour of Qatar here.

Johan Bruyneel; always looking forward

Astana team general manager Johan Bruyneel spoke with Cyclingnews' Laura Weislo at the team's camp in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In part two of our extended interview, Bruyneel talks about the doping issues and the political problems which are plaguing the sport. (Continued from part one):

Johan Bruyneel
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Astana's new general manager Johan Bruyneel clearly faces an uphill battle in trying to restore faith in his new Astana team. It is not just because Astana had three doping positives in 2007 - Matthias Kessler (testosterone), Alexander Vinokourov and Andrey Kashechkin (blood transfusion) as well as the implication of Eddy Mazzoleni in the 'Oil for Drugs' scandal - but also because he himself became damaged by the constant doping allegations against Lance Armstrong.

Added to that, the positives of riders who left his program and then tested positive like Roberto Heras and Floyd Landis, and the unceasing Operación Puerto which continues to threaten the reputation of Contador, and Bruyneel's task is all the more difficult.

However, Bruyneel is determined that he can salvage the reputation of the team, and believes that the sport as a whole can clean itself up and restore the faith of the fans, but he begs patience in what will be a slow process.

"I cannot go any faster than time allows us," Bruyneel sighed, looking tired at the prospect of answering yet another question about the doping problem. "We haven't been competing yet except for Tour Down Under, but we haven't been on showcase. I am going to try to show everyone that we're a new team. Although we still have some riders from last year, it's a new structure, new management.

"Although we know the reputation of Astana in 2007 is not good, unfortunately I cannot change that. The good thing is I don't feel responsible. I know it's a problem I have to solve, but I feel like we have made all the right steps to have a new start. Sometimes it's frustrating when everyone makes the link to 2007, but I have to ask everyone to forget that - I cannot change that."

Read the entire Johan Bruyneel interview here.

Bäckstedt comfortable after shoulder operation

One day after his birthday, Magnus Backstedt
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

Powering through towards the finish of stage 5 of the Tour of Qatar, Magnus Bäckstedt tangled with Wouter Weylandt of Quickstep as he swung off the front off the bunch. As Team Slipstream-Chipotle team mates Julian Dean and Chris Sutton flew over the top of him, the big Swede was left with a broken right clavicle.

"It was one of those freak accidents, I was coming through full gas with Julian and Chris on my wheel," Bäckstedt said about the crash. "Weylandt looked like he was going fine and I just glanced down to make sure Julian was still on wheel as he swung off. Next thing I was laying in the road watching all the bikes and riders coming towards me. As soon as I sat up the shoulder didn't feel right and as I moved it, I heard a big crunch"

Luckily the surgeon in the UK who put Bäckstedts other shoulder together pulled out all the stops to make sure he could see him. An overnight flight from Qatar and x-rays showing a clean break and a little over an hour later he was in surgery.

After an overnight stay in hospital, he hopes to be back on the turbo within a week and back out on his bike in as quickly as possible. "Us bike riders heal quickly and Paris Roubaix is still my objective," he said. "I have been overwhelmed by the support from my new team. I'd say nearly every team mate has sent me a message of support and I want to thank my new bosses for how they have reacted and supported me after the crash. It's amazing how that can just calm you down in this situation and make you focus on getting back. I even managed to get a DVD of the crash! I'm going to put it on my iPod so that I can keep it as a momento."

Bates and Kersten to miss Aus Track Nats

Kate Bates on the start line at Tour Down Under women's crit series 2004.
Photo ©: AIS
Click for larger image

The Australian Elite Track Championships host state of News South Wales has been weakened by the news that current World Champion Kate Bates and 2008 Beijing Olympic hopeful Ben Kersten will both sit out the competition due to viral infections.

Rival state Victoria are sending a 31-member team led by former individual pursuit World Champion Katie Mactier and one of the most powerful sprint groups assembled by one state. Mark French, Shane Perkins and multiple World Champion Shane Kelly, 2007 Junior World Champion Glenn O'Shea, Leigh Howard and rising female star Tess Downing.

The action starts with the AWD's and all interest will be on ACT's Michael Milton who is continuing on with his quest to represent at the Olympics in not just two sport but a Winter and Summer classification.

Cycling NSW hosts the 2008 Australian Elite Track Championships starting Monday 4th February through to Sunday 10th February at the Dunc Gray Velodrome, Bass Hill.

Tickets and program information are available at

Marco Polo Team for Langkawi

Chinese professional cycling team Marco Polo Cycling announced its roster for the 2008 Tour de Langkawi this week. Chinese Olympian Fuyu Li will lead the Trek-sponsored team supported by Aussie Jai Crawford, Ken Onodera (Japan) and will be directed by Michael Carter. Marco Polo placed 18th in the overall teams classification in 2007.

The full Marco Polo Cycling Team line up for Langkawi is: Fuyu Li (China), Xing Yan Dong (China), Loh Sea Keong (Malaysia), Sergey Kudentsov (Russia), Jai Crawford (Australia), Ken Onodera (Japan), Team director: Michael Carter (USA).

Diquigiovanni-Androni pleased with Giro invitation

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Gilberto Simoni (Saunier Duval-Prodir)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Diquigiovanni-Androni, from Venezuela, will participate in the Giro d'Italia 2008. Team director, the Italian Giaynni Savio, said to press agency Efe that he awaits the start of the Italian Grand Tour with great confidence and hopes his team will make an impact in several stages.

"I am very proud to participate with in the best races at the international level like the Giro d'Italia. We have the confidence to continue with the good work we started last year," Savio said.

In 2007, Diquigiovani-Androni fielded a team in 32 total UCI international calendar races. For 2008, the team is led by Italian climber Gilberto Simoni, who has had great success in the Giro. "My philosophy in 24 years as head coach has been to count on very competitive riders and favorable conditions," Savio said.

Diquigiovani-Androni has also signed three Venezuelan riders to the 2008 squad (Carlos Ochoa, Ochoa and Richard Jackson Rodriguez) with Ochoa having the most European experience.

The Venezuelan team will take part in the Tour de Langkawi, in Malaysia, between the 9 and the 17 of February.

Evans, Menchov and Petacchi, in Andalucia

By Antonio J. Salmerón

The Vuelta a Andalucia-Ruta del Sol announced this weekend that 14 teams and 98 cyclists will take part in their five-days race, which begins February 17 in Malaga and runs until February 21 in Cordoba.

The fourteen squads competing include the three Spanish Pro Tour teams of Euskaltel-Euskadi, Caisse d'Epargne and Sauniver Duval, as well as the Pro-continental teams Karpin-Galicia, Andalucia-CajaSur, Región de Murcia and Extremadura-Ciclismo Solidario.

Foreign participation will include Silence-Lotto, Quick Step (Belgium), Rabobank (Netherlands), Skil Shimano (Netherlands), Milram (Italy), Cycle Collostrop (Switzerland) and Katyusha (Russia).

Two-time Vuelta winner Denis Menchov (Russia), 2007 Tour de France runner up Cadel Evans (Australia), sprinter Alessandro Petacchi (who will try to extend his record of 129 victories), and one-day specialist Juan Antonio Flecha (Spain) are all on the start list.

Kieran Page signs with Pezula Racing

Eight victories in 2007 was a great year for French based Brit Kieran Page. A former member of the Great Britain track squad, living on the Cote D'Azur has turned him into an incredibly versatile rider. The prestigious GP d'Antibes was just one victory that caught the eye of the new Irish continental team Pezula Racing, leading to a contract for 2008.

Pezula say they have brought Page in to strengthen what is already a great squad with Irish champion David O'Loughlin and Ciaran Power already signed.

Page said of the deal "I'm delighted to turn professional and especially with a new team such as Pezula. The race programme will suit me especially with races such as the Tour of Qinghai Lake in China, Tour of Ireland and Tour of Britain which we are hoping to ride. I'm ready to go and looking forward to the challenge."

The Pezula team is currently in South Africa preparing for the start of their road season. They will ride the World's View Challenge and Giro del Capo before returning to Europe.

Kelly Benefit Strategies boosts support staff ahead of ToC

The 2008 Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast pro cycling team, faced with an already booked full season, announced this week that they have added Ken Mills as Performance Manager.

Mills was Director Sportif for TargeTraining in 2006 and Jittery Joe's-Kalahari for the 2005 race season. He has also been a guest DS for both Navigators Insurance and Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast pro cycling teams in 2007. It was this guest appearance for Carney and him working with the team in Mexico at the Vuelta Chihuahua that secured the full time position on the squad as the season gets underway for 2008.

"We've known and watched Ken's work for some time now," says performance director, Jonas Carney. "I was particularly impressed with Ken's work for us in Mexico last season so it was an easy decision to bring him on board for 2008. He's going to be a terrific resource for the team and really help us race at our best."

Mills, who is based out of San Antonio, Texas will work directly with Carney on all team race logistics, athlete training and race preparation and will begin by working with the team's Tour of California squad.

"I really learned the short hand of the team last season racing with the guys in Mexico," says Mills. "So it's great to come back this year and build on that with a full race calendar out in front of us. Jonas has made some significant new hires for 2008 and we're expecting great things out of the athletes returning. It's going to be an interesting and wildly successful season."

Athletes racing under Carney and Mills' direction include five new athletes to the roster this season: Andrew Bajadali and Alex Candelario, Brian Bucholz, Ben King and David Veilleux of Canada. Returning for a second year with the squad are Martin Gilbert, Keven Lacombe, Jonny Sundt, Dan Bowman, Reid Mumford, Justin Spinelli and Nick Waite.

Chiapucci to race Titan Desert MTB Race

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Eight years after leaving professional cycling, Claudio Chiapucci still remains connected to the sport. "I am still 'Il Diabolo," the Italian said as he took part in the presentation of the five-stage Titan Desert MTB race in Barcelona; a race he says he will participate in. "I will not train in any specific way for disputing this race. I usually practice tennis, golf, football... but cycling is still my first preference."

Chiapucci says he's taking on this new challenge because he still loves the sport despite its current challenges. "Cycling is in a confusing time," chiapucci said. "A 'biological passport' has been invented to combat doping and will be only applied to the Pro Tour riders yet cyclists who are not in 'the first division' do not need this document! Nowadays, nobody understands anything in cycling."

Jalabert is optimistic with cycling

By Antonio J. Salmeron

Laurent Jalabert in the mountains jersey at the 2002 Tour de France
Photo ©: AFP Photo/Franck Fife
Click for larger image

Now a national television commentator, French cycling legend Laurent Jalabert said recently in an interview in the Spanish sport daily Sport that he has seen a ton of changes in cycling since he left the competitive side of the sport six years ago resulting in what he calls a "complete loss of confidence."

Jalabert says that he has seen a good number of stars swept up in doping scandals, the peloton has reduced in number of teams; and sponsors, doping controls increased, a controversial new 'biological passport' introduced. Unfortunately, he said in the interview. Some media have not been aware of the damage they have done therefore it was necessary to introduce new rules. "Over the past ten years cycling has been losing credibility with the media, sponsors and the public."

The repercussions of that turmoil? "Now it is difficult to know who is a champion of truth," Jalabert said. "But I have great confidence in the future." He said that the decisions that have been made for the benefit of the sport are appropriate and will return confidence to the sport.

"Despite the fame of cycling, this sport is striving hard to clean house, while other sports can not say the same thing. Riders who have violated the regulations must understand that they are required to change their behavior. Those who are respecting the ethical code don't have the slightest problem in accepting the new conditions," Jalabert added.

"I can not imagine or accept that cycling is going to die," Jalabert said. "The important thing for cycling is the future, to encourage people who want to continue practicing cycling and someday will compete in the Tour, the Vuelta or the Giro."

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