Latest Cycling News, February 12, 2008
Edited by Gregor Brown
Eighth in sprint for Di Luca's debut
Danilo Di Luca started his 2008 season with an eighth place thanks to a sprint in the final metres of the 58th Giro della Provincia di Reggio Calabria. The 32 year-old Italian of LPR Brakes tried his luck in the finale of the 183-kilometre stage arriving in Gioia Tauro; however, he did not have the legs to battle the likes of eventual stage winner, Gabriele Balducci.
"We took back the three men in the escape; I tried in the sprint. I am not a sprinter and I did not have the desire to risk it," explained the 2007 Giro d'Italia winner, who opened his season in Italy's south, in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport. "When you see the banner indicating the last kilometre it always rouses you a little bit."
It was a great debut for the rider in his new Team LPR colours – he signed with the Professional Continental team over the winter after three years racing with Roberto Amadio's Team Liquigas. After a winter of training and problems with the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), fans greeted him with a hero's welcome.
"At the end of October you can't go on," he continued. "My head and my legs were tired. However, two weeks were enough, and the desire returned, like an itch, like a quake, like a necessity. And after two months of training, I only had the desire to breath the air of the start villages, the smell of the oil against the cold air, to see the start flags, to live the race as it unfolds."
Di Luca and his team-mates are enjoying their first outing of the season, while getting to know one another. "Raffaele Ferrara's alarm went off, and he starts chatting; he is one that chats from the morning until the night.
"We had breakfast on the fifth floor balcony of the Grand Hotel Excelsior, overlooking the beach front of Reggio Calabria, where the 2005 Giro started."
The three-day stage race continues today with a 190-kilometre run from Piana to Chiaravalle.
Brown takes first season win
By Susan Westemeyer
Graeme Brown of Team Rabobank opened the season with a series of second and third place finishes, so he was happy to take the win in the Trofeo Cala on Monday, the second race in the Volta a Mallorca. Thanks to second on day one and yesterday's win, the 28 year-old Australian took the overall lead in the five-day race.
"As a team, we haven't had the easiest half a year," the sprinter noted on the team's website, rabobank.nl. After a couple months of rest, our sprinters got back on their bikes and we immediately win our second race in Europe. That's why I say: a victory is always nice, but this one feels extra nice and good to me."
It wasn't all good news for the Rabobank team, though, as two riders had to drop out of the race. An Euskaltel rider went down and caused a chain reaction, with Rabobank's Laurens Ten Dam and Juan Antonio Flecha among the victims. "Laurens fell hard and needed stitches in his upper leg. He probably won't be able to ride on Tuesday and it seems unlikely that he will during the rest of the week," directeur sportif Adri van Houwlingen said. "I think Flecha will be fine."
UCI names 15 Professional Continental Teams "wild cards"
The International Cycling Union (UCI) Licence Commission has granted wild cards to 15 Professional Continental Teams for the 2008 season. Teams with a wild card status are entitled to be invited to compete in races on the UCI ProTour calendar. Wild cards – initially slated to be only 12 – were given to teams based on quality criteria: "technical (history of strong performances by team and riders), legal (observance of the rules), administrative (rigorous management and transparency) and ethical (especially anti-doping management and procedures)," according to a UCI press release.
The teams are Elk Haus-Simplon (Aut), Team Volksbank (Aut), Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner (Bel), Topsport Vlaanderen (Bel), Andalucía-Cajasur (Spa), Karpin Galicia (Spa), Agritubel (Fra), Barloworld (GBr), CSF Group Navigare (Irl), Acqua & Sapone-Caffč Mokambo (Ita), Tinkoff Credit Systems (Ita), Skil-Shimano (Ned), BMC Racing Team (USA), Slipstream Chipotle - H30 (USA) and Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli (Ven). No decision was made regarding the Mitsubishi-Jartazi (Est), "the Licence Commission is awaiting further information."
Teams with a wild card are obliged to participate in the biological passport programme (which includes making a financial contribution and agreeing to provide athletes' whereabouts).
"Wild cards were introduced in response to requests made by organisers, teams and riders, who, along with the UCI, wanted all participants in races on the UCI ProTour calendar to be held to the same obligations, particularly from an ethical standpoint, with a view to guaranteeing equality of treatment for all teams."
CPA wants best riders to compete in top events
The Association of Professional Cyclists (CPA) released a statement today stating its concern over top teams being left out of cycling's big events. It comes on the heels of the Giro d'Italia organisers not inviting such ProTour teams as High Road and Astana to the 2008 race, although the race or teams were not mentioned directly.
"No race, even the most important one, can exist without the riders," read the release by the CPA, which is headed by ex-professional Cédric Vasseur. "However, some organisers' current policy [leads us to] think that the riders' talent is despised and that nothing else counts except the glory of the races.
"However, is it not logical that the best riders, integrated in solid and structured teams, take part in the most important events? It is at least essential to clearly and definitively lay down objective and intangible rules of selection. The ProTour system has at least this advantage. Now more than ever, what professional cycling and the riders need is stability instead of confusion."
The CPA is concerned with job loss resulting for sponsors who have or may pull out of the sport, and noted the need for "common sense."
"Cycling cannot escape from modernization and must adapt itself to the surrounding economic context if it wants to survive. Other sports have understood that very well. ... In the absence of clear rules, the riders will at the end always be the losers.
"The victims [are] the riders, who require nothing else more than to practice their sport under good conditions, appeal to the decision-makers' common sense."
Of note is that George Hincapie, Roger Hammond, Michael Rogers are all on team High Road and representatives for their countries on the UCI ProTour Council (UPTC) – part of the CPA.
Reus recovering and training
By Susan Westemeyer
Kai Reus is still recovering from head injuries he suffered in a training accident last summer. "I cannot complain about my recovery so far," he said on his team's website, rabobank.nl. "But that does not mean that I do not still have a long way to go."
The 22 year-old Dutchman crashed while riding alone during a team training camp in France last summer and was placed in a coma while recovering. Rabobank gave him a new contract for the 2008 season even though it was not clear whether he would be able to ride or not.
"Mentally speaking, it is not easy. I had to start all over again from ground zero," he said. "It is a tough road to take. On the other hand, I am aware that I will not be able to ride any races soon."
Reus attended the team training camp in the south of Spain last month. "I never expected that I would be able to participate in this training camp. After all, the neurologist had indicated that the recovery would take some time. In other words, things are going rather smoothly." He rode an adjusted schedule of about 80 kilometres daily.
He is now in Portugal with the Rabobank Continental team. When the time is ripe, he will make his racing return with the Continental team, but for now he is willing to wait. "If you start too soon, then it might backfire later. That is of no use to anyone."
The youngster knows that he will be welcomed back to the ProTour team with open arms, whenever that may be. "Of course, you secretly draw up a time schedule, but that is not in accordance with reality. It is going to take months for me to make my comeback in the pro team," Reus underlined.
"I am very grateful to the team; additionally, my new contract gives me the necessary confidence for the future. This gesture again underlines that I am part of a wonderful team. I doubt whether this could have been possible with other teams."
Roelandts almost misses control
By Susan Westemeyer
Monday's Silence-Lotto team presentation was nearly a very serious problem for neo-professional Jurgen Roelandts. He had to leave the presentation early and hurry home to Sint-Martens-Bodegem, where doping controllers from the Vlaamse Gemeenschap (Flemish community) were waiting for him – and had been waiting for a while, according to Sportwereld.be.
It turns out the 22 year-old had forgotten to put the team presentation on his International Cycling Union (UCI) "whereabouts" form for the day. Therefore, the young man almost started out his career with a missed control. The test was carried out when he returned home. "He just forgot, but it is not considered a missed control," said team leader José de Cauwer.
Petacchi calls on experts for defence
Alessandro Petacchi is working with two medical experts in his defence to his 'non-negative' doping control following stage 11 of the 2007 Giro d'Italia. The 34 year-old Milram sprinter was cleared by the Italian cycling federation (FCI); however, head CONI prosecutor Ettore Torri appealed the case to to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), and it will be heard March 12.
Australian Doctor Ken Fitch and Canadian physiologist Ben Sporer were contacted by the Italian via e-mail according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. Petacchi has a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) to take asthma drug Salbutamol (Ventolin) in competition, but was found to have 1320 ng/ml of the the in his urine – more than the 1000 ng/ml acceptable limit.
The hearing date in Lausanne, Switzerland, is the same date as the start of Tirreno-Adriatico, March 12 to 18. The stage race is a key warm-up event to Milano-Sanremo, March 22, which Petacchi won in 2005. The rider from La Spezia is not obliged to be present, but the defence has asked for a postponement nonetheless. In addition, the two new experts are not able to make the current March 12 date due to previous engagements.
An eventual postponement is likely.
Klöden sick again
By Susan Westemeyer
Andreas Klöden is having a hard time getting started in his second season with Team Astana. He arrived at the team's USA training camp in Albuquerque, New Mexico, only to come down with a fever that kept him in bed several days. Then upon returning to Europe he discovered that his children were sick – and they promptly and politely shared it with dad.
The 32 year-old German is now in Mallorca, where he was supposed to ride the Volta a Mallorca. Instead, he will be staying in bed and probably not be able to race at all. He will remain on the Spanish island until flying over to the mainland for the Volta ao Algarve, February 20 to 24.
White jerseys for High Road
By Susan Westemeyer
Team High Road has officially presented its new white jersey, which replaces the black one the team wore in the Tour Down Under. The jersey has a clear, simple and modern look, with "High Road" in bright red and yellow letters. The shorts are black, with white stripes on the sides and the team's name is in matching script.
As a former USA national champion, George Hincapie, has stripes around the sleeves and collar consisting of small American flags.
The team also released a photo of Adam Hansen in his national time trial championship kit. The white suit features the traditional Australian colours of yellow and green, with the team's name in black lettering.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Team High Road
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing Limited 2008)