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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News, January 9, 2008

Edited by Greg Johnson

No doping case for Schumacher

By Susan Westemyer

Stefan Schumacher (Germany) celebrates
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Stefan Schumacher has nothing to fear from the Bund Deutsche Radfahrer (BDR - the German cycling federation) concerning the fact that he tested positive for amphetamines in a control by German police following an auto accident in October last year. On Monday evening the Gerolsteiner rider announced that a blood test following his accident on October 7 showed traces of amphetamines in his system.

Schumacher had been celebrating his third place finish in the World Championships and admitted to having driven his car while under the influence of alcohol, but denied having used any sort of drug.

After being informed of the case, the BDR reviewed the situation and deemed that there's no need for it to get involved in the matter. "[The BDR] came to the conclusion that it is not a doping case, because amphetamines are not on the World Anti-Doping Agency's 'out-of-competition' forbidden list," the federation said in a press release issued late Tuesday afternoon.

The BDR noted that Schumacher's last race for the 2007 season was the World Championship race in Stuttgart, Germany, and that he had a negative doping control after the road race on September 30. "That there was more than a week between the Worlds race and the police control after Schumacher's accident, it can be assumed that the amphetamine was not taken in connection with a race or in a preparation phase for a race," the BDR release continued. "There is therefore no violation of the doping rules."

Jan Ullrich was suspended for six months in 2002 after testing positive for an amphetamine, which was on the forbidden list at the time, however the rules were changed in 2004. Schumacher may still face civil charges or punishment by Team Gerolsteiner.

Rock Racing on slippery slope with sponsors

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor

Rock Racing owner Michael Ball hangs out with riders
Photo ©: Kurt Jambretz
(Click for larger image)

The word 'controversial' is becoming synonymous with the fledgling US domestic team, Rock Racing, and its outspoken owner, Michael Ball, the flamboyant, Lamborghini-driving executive behind the fashion label Rock & Republic, the team's principal financial sponsor. Registered as a 'Continental' team with the UCI – the lowest level pro team ranking – it had announced plans to enter major ProTour events in Europe, even though UCI rules prevent teams at this level from competing. It also announced the signing of riders such as Tyler Hamilton and Oscar Sevilla, who both have alleged links to the Operación Puerto investigation, it named currently suspended rider Floyd Landis as involved with the team, and parted ways with director sportif Frankie Andreu.

The team's ongoing evolution has resulted in considerable media coverage and the latest headlines surround its rocky relationships with leading players in the cycling industry. In short, the team's relations with equipment sponsors have been as much of a roller coaster ride as with its roster.

Several companies told Cyclingnews that they experienced inconsistent treatment from Michael Ball and Rock Racing. Indeed, the musical chairs it has played with bike sponsors in the past six months is the most salient example. For the 2007 season, Rock Racing was riding Scott bicycles. According to Adrian Montgomery of Scott USA, the team was slated to ride Scott bikes again in 2008. "We had an agreement, but not a contract, for the 2007 and 2008 season," said Montgomery. "I couldn't get a good contract ... he (Ball) has to be able to opt out of anything."

Montgomery indicated that Ball had "good lawyers" and as such, he found the legal process difficult. He said his experience was "the same thing he is doing with his athletes".

Still, Montgomery was planning on being with Rock Racing in 2008, as a USA domestic addition to their principal sponsorship of the ProTour-level Saunier Duval team, now known as Saunier Duval-Scott. "I had it all set, including the dates that they would be built," he said of the Rock Racing agreement. "I had all new 'Addicts' (Scott's high-end model) with chrome Rock Racing decals – a really sick design. I gave him a great deal for 2008, but it didn't include all his other 'teams'." The teams Montgomery referred to were supposed plans for a younger development team and women's squad, along with the main squad.

Montgomery told Rock Racing that he could not supply the amount of bicycles requested. "Saying things like we don't have enough inventory probably made Michael think we are small-time, but that is the nature of the business – we can't have all that inventory in stock just lying around," he added. "And it's very unlikely that we would even have the right sizing!"

To read the full news feature, click here.

Cofidis hold low-key launch

Cofidis cyclists Samuel Dumoulin, Sylvain Augé,
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone squad has held a small official presentation of its 2008 roster in Paris, France overnight. The French ProTour team held a low key affair, with team management and a selection of its 2008 roster addressing the assembled media, completing interviews and posing for photos.

The entire team weren't able to make the official presentation, with a selection of riders absent as they head for Australia, where the ProTour season will start unusually early with the Tour Down Under. The French outfit has sent Mickaël Buffaz, Jean Eudes Demaret, Nicolas Hartmann, Yann Huguet, Amaël Moinard, David Moncoutié and Sébastien Portal to contest the Australian event, the first ProTour round outside of Europe.

For more on the Cofidis team and its ProTour rivals, see our 2008 team database.

Photography

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by AFP Photo

Cofidis' 2008 roster: Stéphane Augé (Fra), Alexandre Blain (Fra), Florent Brard (Fra), Mickaël Buffaz (Fra), Sylvain Chavanel (Fra), Kevin De Weert (Bel), Jean Eudes Demaret (Fra), Hervé Duclos-Lassalle (Fra), Samuel Dumoulin (Fra), Leonardo Duque (Col), Julien El Farès (Fra), Bingen Fernández (Spa), Nicolas Hartmann (Fra), Maryan Hary (Fra), Mathieu Heijboer (Ned), Frank Hoj (Den), Yann Huguet (Fra), Sébastien Minard (Fra), Amaël Moinard (Fra), David Moncoutié (Fra), Maxime Monfort (Bel), Damien Monier (Fra), Nick Nuyens (Bel), Sébastien Portal (Fra), Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel), Rein Taaramae (Est), Tristan Valentin (Fra), Rik Verbrugghe (Bel), Romain Villa (Fra) and Steve Zampieri (Swi).

Lapthorne ready to challenge from the top

Darren Lapthorne won last year's title race
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image)

Australian national road champion Darren Lapthorne is ready to defend his crown in this Sunday's elite men's road race, but the Victorian knows it won't be an easy feat. The top of Australia's professional cyclists will take part in the national title race, with some 113 riders out to impress Olympic selectors and vie for the green and gold jersey.

"Definitely there's enormous pressure," Lapthorne told TheAge.com.au. "Last year I didn't have any pressure at all because my name wouldn't have been in the list of the top-20 riders. That was a huge advantage, actually. But this time it's definitely going to be a lot more difficult and because I also won a stage at the Bay criteriums I guess it's sort of obvious that I'm in quite good shape."

Lapthorne has enjoyed a sensational 12 months since claiming the national title, both at home and abroad, with the successes leading to the former Drapac-Porsche rider signing a contract with German outfit Sparkasse for 2008.

"It's an extremely tough race to win, and there's probably only a couple of per cent chance that I can do it again, but I've trained hard and to wear that jersey again would mean everything and I think I can do it," said Lapthorne.

The Victorian believes Rabobank's William Walker and Credit Agricole's Simon Gerrans will be his strongest rivals in the field. But despite the big names in the field, which contains top names like Stuart O'Grady and Michael Rogers, Lapthorne also believes his former team-mates at the Drapac-Porsche continental team will ride all out for the title.

"I'd say they're the two that are the most dangerous," said Lapthorne of Walker and Gerrans. "But then there will also be some riders like Peter McDonald who rides for Drapac (Porsche) and he has a very strong team around him – almost 10 riders that will be looking after him … and there are a number of other riders in that position."

The Australian Open Road Championships get underway today with the Elite Women's and Under 23 Time Trials. To read the full preview for the AORC, click here.

Team Type 1 to start at Langkawi

By Jean-François Quénet

The newly formed American continental squad Team Type 1, which is managed by former Navigators Insurance director Ed Beamon, will begin its first season in Malaysia with a strong contingent of Australian riders at Le Tour de Langkawi. The US-based squad will be led by Matt Wilson, who made his debut at the Malaysian event some 10 years ago with the Australian National Team. A former national champion during his time with Française des Jeux in 2003, Wilson is the recent winner of the Herald Sun Tour in Melbourne Australia.

Team Type 1 will bring along his compatriots Ben Brooks and Fabio Calabria. The three 'foreigners' will be New Zealand national time trial champion Glenn Chadwick, America's Shawn Milne, who won the Tour of Taiwan in 2007, and Moises Chavez Adalpe from Mexico.

"I'm very excited to return to Malaysia with this new team in a race I've always enjoyed", Beamon said.

In a bit of a departure from the normal product sponsor model, the team is named not for a product but for a cause: Type 1 diabetes, which several of its riders have lived with since childhood. The team is funded by pharmaceutical sponsors who make insulin and other products to help diabetics cope with their disease, but its mission is not to help sell those products but to sell a lifestyle.

For more of the new North American outfit, click here.

Gillett asks locals to join weekend ride

Simon Gillett, the widowed husband of professional cyclist Amy Gillett, has called on all recreation cyclists to join him and some of Australia's top cyclists for a ride on the Australia Open Road Cycling Championships course this Sunday morning. The Ride with the Champions will be led by Simon, a two time world rowing champion, and Olivia Gollan, who will be joined by a host of other top professionals to help raise money for the Amy Gillett Foundation.

"There's a couple of messages in this," Simon told The Courier. "The first is it's a rare chance to rub shoulders with the elite riders, both men and women, bearing in mind some of the women are former team mates of Amy.

"They are genuinely the best in the world, so it is not just a trumped-up group," he added. "It includes former 2003 national champion Olivia Gollan, Olympic Champion Sarah Carrigan, Commonwealth Games silver medalist Rochelle Gilmore, 2004 World Cup champion Oenone Woods, Natalie Bates and Kate Bates.

Simon's late wife Amy was tragically killed in a training accident after she and five other riders from the Australian women's team were hit by a car during a training ride in Germany in 2005. The Amy Gillett Foundation is aimed at increasing road safety awareness between cyclists and motorists.

"This event was started last year with the Ballarat City Council supporting it," added Simon. "I wanted to support the people who were involved in that. Last year there were several hundred riders involved and I expect to see a similar number this year."

The ride gets underway on Sunday, January 13 at 8 AM. Participants will have the opportunity to ride the challenging 10.2 km Open Road Cycling circuit or the 28 km Time Trial course.

Cyclist of any level wishing to take part in the event can register at www.visitballarat.com.au for a cost of $30 AUD, with all proceeds going to the foundation.

Fuentes' testimony expected this year

It is expected that Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes – at the centre of the Operación Puerto scandal – will be questioned this year in connection with the lawsuit between Jan Ullrich and German anti-doping crusader Werner Franke, according to Franke's attorney, Michael Lehner.

"Fuentes testimony will be in 2008," he told the dpa press agency. Currently the necessary documents are being translated into Spanish and will then be presented to the Spanish doctor. "Then we will see if Fuentes takes advantage of his right not to testify."

A court in Hamburg, Germany, has issued an injunction which prevents Franke from claiming that Ullrich paid Fuentes 35,000 euro. Franke has appealed that injunction, and the end of November the court ruled that testimony be taken from Fuentes on the matter. SW

Cyclingnews reader poll - Photo of the year and most improved rider

A picture tells a thousand words, but it took over 2,500 votes to win this year's Photo of the Year competition. This year's winning photo represented a special moment from the 2007 Tour de France as the yellow jersey rider at the time sprinted to a stage victory.

While we're talking about the Grand Tour, it was at the French event that this year's Most Improved Rider rose to prominence. We won't give it away here, however after a solid effort earlier in the season this youngster out-rode himself against the toughest riders in the world and claimed this category as a result.

Thank you to all who voted, and look for the winner of the Zipp carbon fibre goodies: the 570g VumaQuad crankset, the SLC2 handlebars and Zipp's 145 stem, to be announced at the week's end.

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