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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News, February 29, 2008

Edited by Laura Weislo

Chaos in Valenciana loses lead for Gutiérrez

Manuel Váquez (Contentpolis-Murcia) wins stage three over Rubén Plaza (Benfica), who took the overall lead
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Caisse d'Epargne's Iván Gutiérrez lost the lead of the Vuelta a Valenciana on Thursday after the group he was in was led off course by the motorcycle official in the final five kilometres of the third stage. The chasing group of 25 riders was bearing down on two escapees, Manuel Váquez (Contentpolis-Murcia) and Rubén Plaza (Benfica), and had brought the gap down to less than twenty seconds when they were led the wrong way at a roundabout and onto a highway which was filled with rush-hour traffic.

In a dangerous and chaotic few minutes, the groups raced on parallel roads until the chasing group reached the next exit where it rejoined the race route for the final two kilometres, but Váquez and Plaza were able to stay away.Váquez took the stage victory and Plaza overtaking Gutiérrez on the general classification.

The lost chance to overtake the breakaway all but dashed the overall classification hopes of the yellow jersey Gutiérrez as well as Astana's Alberto Contador. The Caisse d'Epargne, Bouygues Télécom and Saunier Duval teams filed a protest after the race, and the judges reduced the 21 second gap at the line to 16 seconds, the amount of the gap when the mistake was made.

The decision did not change the order of the overall classification, where Plaza now leads by five seconds over Váquez with Gutiérrez in third, 21 seconds behind. With two relatively flat stages before the finale on Sunday, chances to move up in the overall classification are slim.

"What happened is a real pity," said Caisse d'Epargne team manager Neil Stephens after meeting with the commissaires. "They explained to us that they understood very well the fact that the Caisse d'Epargne riders were the biggest victims of that incident, but on the other hand, the two breakaway riders were not guilty for what happened behind, and as a consequence nothing could be done.

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"Races are sometimes like that, and that is not the first nor the last time something like that will happen, but I feel really sorry for our riders because they were doing such an extraordinary job to win that race. We were close to winning it and now we have probably lost it all," Stephens concluded.

Milram's Christian Knees was one of the riders in that second group, and had felt good about his chances for a stage win before the incident. "That was very unfortunate, but in the end I am just happy that nothing happened to anyone," Knees said. "I had really good legs, the race was going perfectly, and then something like this happens."

"Everything was chaotic after the misdirection and no one knew what was going on. I was happy when we got back on the planned race route, but by then it was too late to finish near the top."

Lampre's Patxi Vila was also in the chasing bunch, but wasn't sure the detour affected the finale. "Today mistake is unique," he commented. "It was not certain that we'd reach the attackers, but the error gave them a sure advantage."

McQuaid: ASO deliberately stirring up disharmony

By Shane Stokes

UCI president Pat McQuaid warned teams
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Once again politics threaten the smooth running of the cycling season. UCI President Pat McQuaid spoke to Cyclingnews about the clash over Paris-Nice and possible sanctions for those involved. He also confirmed that Italian races will be on the UCI calendar and talked about a clear problem relating to the biological passport programme.

It's once again a worrying time for those who follow cycling. Despite hopes over the winter months that the UCI-ASO war was nearing a solution and also that the battle against doping was getting closer to being won, it has become increasingly apparent that both issues are still a long way from being resolved.

The first is easier to see, following ASO's recent decision to take Paris-Nice off the international calendar and to run it instead with the French federation. UCI President Pat McQuaid told Cyclingnews on Thursday that he considered the decision to be a deliberate effort to stir up disharmony with the governing body, given that the UCI had imposed no rules dictating which teams must ride which was the ASO's chief complaint with the ProTour. "There was no reason, they have just done it to cause a showdown," he stated.

The problems affecting the fight against doping are less obvious at this point in time but, as McQuaid told Cyclingnews this week, race organisers have so far failed to pay their proportion of the costs for implementing the biological passport programme. The total cost of the programme is €5.3 million; at this point in time, the UCI is running €1.3 million short, and that shortfall could threaten the implementation of the passports this season.

McQuaid spoke to Cyclingnews on Wednesday, saying then that the teams had the power to work collectively and to force ASO to return Paris-Nice and its other races on the UCI calendar. However, the AIGCP opted instead to go against the UCI, announcing that its members had unanimously voted to take part in the race.

The Irishman later gave his reaction to the news, saying that he was disappointed by the announcement. "I find the AIGCP decision strange. Eric Boyer spoke to me on the phone Monday evening and told me he had contacted all 20 teams who were due to ride Paris-Nice and that the decision was unanimous that they were going to take to the start line. However ten minutes later I spoke to one of the ProTour team managers, who confirmed to me he had absolutely no contact from Boyer that day. So I wonder how unanimous the decision really was.

"I would also make the point that Boyer is the first ever President of AIGCP who has led his members to go against UCI regulations and collaborate with an organiser who itself is breaking the regulations."

Continue to the full feature.

French federation signs agreement with ASO, claims UCI intimidation

The president of the French Cycling Federation (FFC), Jean Pitallier today signed an agreement with the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) which will pave the way for the Federation to sanction the March 9-16 Paris-Nice stage race, reported Agency France Presse. The convention, signed by ASO director Christian Prudhomme, puts the race one step closer to being run outside the control of the International Cycling Union (UCI), in defiance of UCI president Pat McQuaid's threats to punish the teams and the federations if they went forward with the scheme.

"The UCI is trying to intimidate the whole world," said Pitallier to the French newspaper L'Humanité on Thursday. "The UCI is afraid that the teams, who have bought some very expensive licenses to be eligible to participate in certain races, will request that they be reimbursed the money because they can participate in these races without a licence. The UCI is in the sport to make the rules and to enforce them, not to become an economic and financial partnership," he continued.

The UCI president Pat McQuaid sent a letter to the teams on Wednesday, warning them against entering into a contract with the ASO to participate in Paris-Nice. Making some of the same criticisms leveled against the UCI by Pitallier, McQuaid warned teams that "the contract illustrates that the teams would have little else in terms of rights other than the right to submit to the wishes of ASO."

McQuaid wrote, "By virtue of Article 4.5 ASO would take control of all image rights of the teams and riders. Teams would also have practically no rights in the sphere of communication (see also signage on the vehicles and article 5.2). This article plainly demonstrates the purpose of the contract which is to put the teams entirely at the disposition of ASO's commercial interests."

He concluded saying, "the organisation of a race outside the UCI’s calendar would allow ASO to wipe out at a stroke all the rules and regulations which have been built up over the years in order to ensure a balance of power between the teams and organisers," and warned "participation at Paris -Nice organised in this manner by ASO would be a total violation of the rules of the UCI."

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split

October 4, 2008 - New ASO chief to maintain values
September 26, 2008 - UCI declares peace, appoints new VP
August 30, 2008 - UCI re-signs five ProTour races
August 22, 2008 - ProTour: Bouncing back or lame duck?
August 19, 2008 - Stapleton analyses 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - Feedback on 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - UCI announces 'world calendar'

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split

WADA: passports will be ready for the Tour, AFLD not sure

Pierre Bordry, President of the Châtenay-Malabry anti-doping laboratory (LNDD)
Photo ©: AFP
Click for larger image

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) announced on Wednesday that the biological passports developed with the UCI would be used for the Tour de France even if the race is not sanctioned by the sport's governing body, but the president of the French anti-doping agency is not so sure the systems will be in place by then.

WADA Director General David Howman told AFP that despite the fact that the system was developed by the UCI, WADA and the French Ministry of Sport, it would be ready to be used by whichever governing body were to sanction the Tour.

The passport would look at six blood samples for some 700 to 900 riders leading up to the Tour de France, and would be compiled by WADA's ADAMS software, which is accessible to any anti-doping agency.

The French Anti-doping Agency, AFLD, could be pulled in to run the doping controls for the July event if it is held outside the aegis of the UCI, as is the case for Paris-Nice. Its president Pierre Bordry has guarded optimism for the practice being fully functional in time for the Tour. "Even if WADA is aware of a suspicious passport, will it be able to transmit the result to the French Agency for the fight against doping?"

Bordry clarified that its options would be limited even if a suspicious value were detected, and it would only be able to perform targeted controls on the rider in question, and "under no circumstances provide the result to ASO," said Bordry. "I would be very surprised if the French Ministry of Sports continued to fund a blood passport that is not usable for the Tour de France."

The battle between the ASO and the UCI has delayed the implementation of the passports because of funding issues, and Bordry was concerned that any delay would get passed down to the laboratory which must analyse the samples. "If we wanted to integrate the laboratory Châtenay-Malabry, we would have to train staff and purchase equipment, which will take two months," he said.

19 teams for Critérium International

Critérium International organiser ASO (Amaury Sport Organisation) announced nineteen teams for this year's edition on Wednesday. Six French teams and thirteen Foreign were selected to contest the three-stage, two-day event which takes place on March 29-30.

Team High Road, Milram, Team CSC, Caisse d'Epargne, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Ag2r, Bouygues Telecom, Cofidis, Crédit Agricole, Française des Jeux, Agritubel, Lampre and Rabobank were selected from the ProTour ranks and Karpin-Galicia, Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner, Team Slipstream-Chipotle, BMC, Barloworld and Skil-Shimano from the Professional Continental division.

The race will follow its usual format with a point-to-point first stage of 193 km from Signy-le-Petit to Charleville-Mezieres, followed by dual stages on the next day. The second stage will be a 98.5 km mountainous parcours from Les Vieilles Forges to Monthermé in the morning, and will be followed by a time trial stage in Charleville-Mezieres of 8.3 km in the afternoon.

German Olympic medalist confesses to doping

German Olympic Robert Lechner, who won the bronze medal in the kilometre time trial in the Seoul Olympics in 1988, admitted in a German newspaper that he resorted to doping during his career on the track. In an interview by the Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung, the 41-year-old described the evolution of his drug use, and how he decided to quit track racing after he felt the drugs had harmed his health and performance.

"It is time to shed light on the past" said Lechner, who alleged that the German Cycling Federation was responsible for his doping regimen. "I was strongly advised to take products to ensure my health and to improve my performance," without naming who advised him or which drugs he took..

"I was so accustomed to taking medications. I had the impression that it was natural to exploit the limits of medical assistance. The regimen was described as a safe, low dosage, and everything would be undetectable after two days – my heavy conscience was finally outweighed the prospect of stronger muscles. Yes, I knew that banned substances were involved. But it was a principle: If you are not tested positive, then you are not positive," Lechner continued.

Lechner admitted to using drugs leading up to the 1988 Olympic Games, but a bout of glandular fever in 1990 convinced him to stop track cycling and doping. He had a brief road career before retiring in 1992.

De Bonis out of Lugano

By Susan Westemeyer

Gerolsteiner has withdrawn Francesco De Bonis from its line-up for this weekend's Gran Premio di Lugano, and will hold him out of competition for two weeks. The Italian is being treated with cortisone for a bee sting, and under the regulations of the Movement for Credible Cycling, he may not ride, even with a therapeutic use exemption.

"Team Gerolsteiner voluntarily withdraws Francesco De Bonis from competition because he must be treated with cortisone," announced team manager Hans-Michael Holczer on Thursday. "Gerolsteiner is a member of the MPCC (Mouvement pour un Cyclisme Credible). Under its rules, the rider must immediately be declared unfit for competition for two weeks."

De Bonis' place in the GP Lugano will be taken by Fabian Wegmann.

Barloworld prepares for upcoming races

Team Barloworld will be looking to improve upon last year's second place in the GP Lugano when it contests this year's edition on Sunday. Coming off a narrow loss in the Trofeo Laigueglia where Enrico Gasparotto finished fourth in a tight bunch sprint, the team's will be counting on the Italian and his fellow sprinter Baden Cooke in the Swiss race.

The team will also include promising South African John-Lee Augustyn, Francesco Bellotti, Patrick Calcagni, Gianpaolo Cheula, Marco Corti and Carlo Scognamiglio.

Meanwhile, the team's climbers will travel to South Africa for the MTN Giro del Capo and Cape Argus, which will be held between 4-9 March. Both races are major objectives for the team, as they are held on the home roads of the team's main sponsor Barloworld.

Robert Hunter, Christian Pfannberger, Daryl Impey, Christopher Froome, Hugo Sabido and Felix Cárdenas, will be part of the team in South Africa for the five day 613 km race between Wellington and Cape Town. The squad will be aiming to repeat their 2007 success, where they won three stages, the overall classification and several other placings.

Sequoia Cycling Classic to benefit Brain Injury foundation

The next stop for elite women on the US National Racing Calendar will be the Sequoia Cycling Classic, a time trial and criterium weekend. Along with the elite and amateur events, the March 15-16 event in Exeter and Visalia, California will also host a benefit for The Jeff Barnes Brain Injury Foundation.

The weekend's festivities will include a 0.7-mile walk/run on Sunday, March 16 during the Visalia Criterium. Proceeds from the walk/run will solely benefit the foundation, a Visalia-based non-profit public foundation. The Foundation works to provide assistance to brain injured persons and their families and educates the public through campaigns, one of which provides bicycle and skateboard helmets to children.

"It's a great cause to support and one more reason to bring family and friends out to the event," said Race Director Sheri Clark.

The Jeff Barnes Brain Injury Foundation was created after Jeff Barnes sustained a severe brain injury in December 2001. The foundation is requesting a $10 donation for each person who wants to participate in the walk/run, which is scheduled to take place between the pro women and men's race at 1 p.m. at the race's start/finish line. Sign-ups will be taken the day of the race. Those who register for the race will be entered into a drawing for a free bike and helmet.

"We are extremely honored to join Sequoia Cycling Classic again this year," said Cheri Barnes, of the Jeff Barnes Brain Injury Foundation. "March is National Brain Injury Awareness month, so we're hoping our presence at the event will help create an awareness about brain injuries and their life-altering consequences."

For more information on the Sequoia Cycling Classic, visit

UK's sprint school back in session

Following the success of the first season of Sprint School, the DHL sponsored schools will be returning to Newport for a second year. As well as gaining confidence and invaluable tips, techniques and advice over last season's schools, many of the youngsters have gone on to compete at the Revolution events as Future Stars and several have been selected to join the prestigious talent team.

The addition of three more Track Leagues – Carmarthen, Herne Hill, West Riding – will allow an even wider selection of young cyclists to come from across the UK to the DHL Sprint Schools at the Newport Velodrome in 2008 to meet the Stars and train with the Talent Team coaches. The list now of 18 track leagues sending in nominations also includes: Brighton, Bristol, Calshot, Cardiff, Dundee, Edinburgh, Forest Town, Halesowen, Kirkby, Manchester ACT, Manchester Friday, Newcastle-under-lyme, Newport, Reading, Scunthorpe, Solihull, Welwyn and Wolverhampton.

British Cycling's Talent Team Development Coach, Tim Buckle will be taking over the reins from Gary Coltman and has put together a programme which includes 200m time trials, match sprinting and Keirin racing. The schools aim to teach youngsters the skills and techniques they'll need to progress as track sprinters in a fun and enjoyable environment while mixing track time with class room sessions and the ever popular off bike games.

The Schools will take place between February and September: 29th February, 4th April, 30th May, 13th June, 18th July and 5th September and will culminate with a Sprint School competition at Future Revolution in the Autumn.

For more information, visit and

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