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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini


First Edition Cycling News, January 12, 2008

Edited by Sue George and Laura Weislo

Winter spectacle for Roubaix velodrome

By Brecht Decaluwé

The Roubaix Velodrome
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

The visions of a hot, dusty day in April when Stuart O'Grady snatched the Paris-Roubaix win in the Roubaix velodrome will be a distant memory this weekend when the venue hosts the cyclo-cross event, Grand Prix Lille Metropole.

As O'Grady enjoys the summer sun in Australia, where he is preparing his defense of last year's title, the mud-addicts in the North of France will descend upon the historic locale, courtesy of the Veloclub de Roubaix organisers. The famed track where the cobbled road classic Paris-Roubaix has had its finish for so many years now hosts the UCI-C1 cyclo-cross race, which was organized for the first time in 2006 when world champion Erwin Vervecken won the race.

In 2007 the Belgian was beaten in a close sprint against Dutchman Gerben De Knegt, bringing back memories to similar sprints in the road classic like the clash between Belgian Eddy Planckaert and Canadian Steve Bauer back in 1990.

This year the 'cross race in Roubaix is once again organized one day ahead of the ninth round of the UCI World Cup in Liévin this year. The ambition of the organizers is to take over the status of World Cup in 2009. The bunch that will line up for the start in Roubaix consists mostly of international cyclo-cross riders, but without the most expensive Belgian stars. An exception was made for former winner and three times world champion Erwin Vervecken who will want to build on his current raise of form.

The local favourite for the win on Saturday is area hero John Gadret, who is still a member of the organizing cycling club. Other favourites are Italian champion Enrico Franzoi, Americans Jonathan Page and Ryan Trebon, Czech ace Radomir Simunek Jr. and last year's winner Gerben De Knegt. They will have to make sure that Belgian elite without contract champion Jan Soetens or Ben Berden don't grab the victory in front of their wheels.

Boyer takes AIGCP reins

Eric Boyer
Photo ©: Régis Garnier
(Click for larger image) Eric Boyer the team manager of Cofidis

Cofidis general manager Eric Boyer will take over as president of the International Association of Professional Cycling teams (AIGCP) after being elected to the post at a meeting in Brussels on Friday. Boyer will succeed Quick Step Manager Belgian Patrick Lefevere, who resigned late last year.

Boyer, who is part of the Movement for a Creditable Cycling (MPCC), which was formed after doping cases rocked the Tour de France, hopes to achieve greater unity from the AIGCP on the anti-doping front. The French and German teams which made up the MPCC created that group in part because of a lack of cooperation amongst teams in the AIGCP. The AIGCP's former vice president Roger Legeay resigned from his post over doping the issue. The Crédit Agricole manager was one of the founders of the MPCC.

The AIGCP has 27 members, including all of the licensed ProTour teams. Its former chairman, Patrick Lefevere, remained as a member of the AIGCP steering committee.

AIGCP management: President: Eric Boyer (Cofidis), Vice-president delegate: Henri van der Aat (Rabobank), Vice President: Mauro Gianetti (Saunier Duval), Secretary-General: Serge Beucherie (Credit Agricole), Deputy Secretary-General: Carsten Jeppesen (CSC), Treasurer: Hans Michael Holczer (Gerolsteiner), Assistant Treasurer: Vincent Lavenu (AG2R)

Unibet reborn as UCI Pro Continental

The UCI approved the former team as an additional 2008 Professional Continental Team on Wednesday. Unibet also gets a new name for 2008: Cycle Collstrop.

The UCI added three other Professional Continental Teams to their list including Extremadura-Gruppo Gallardo (of Spain), Preti Mangimi (of Luxembourg), Cermica Flaminia Bossini Doce of Italy and Cycle Collstrop (of Sweden).

Those three teams had already applied, but the UCI had deemed their applications previously incomplete. Upon appeal to the UCI's Management Committee per Article 2.16.017 and on the basis of additional information provided, the Committee approved the three registrations.

Manan scores hat trick in Malaysia

Anuar Manam (Le Tua Cycling Team) wins
Photo ©: Rosli
(Click for larger image)

At the end of stage five in Karak, the LeTua Continental Team rider Anuar Manan scored a hat trick and became the first local rider to earn three wins in the Jelajah Malaysia, which kicked off Monday.

The achievements of the rider from Kuala Ibai, Terengganu, tied the record of Indonesian rider Samai Amari from the Team Wismilak. He won three stages in the 2003 edition of the race, when it was ranked as a 2.6 category event.

The 22 year-old Anuar finished the 133.7km stage five race from Gemas to Karak in three hours and 54 seconds. His win also breaks his own personal record of two stages for the event.

"I'm really happy as I managed to break my record of winning two stages in last year's Jelajah Malaysia. My sincere thanks to my team which has helped me a lot to gain more points as early as the first sprint zone."

"Today's winding road didn't stop me from being in the front group. Moreover it was an advantage for me to win today's race," said Anuar, who has been quite comfortably wearing the blue jersey designating him as sprint leader.

In the race today, Anuar managed to add another 10 points at the sprint zones in Pasir Besar and Bahau to accumulate a total of 29 points. Suhardi Hassan sits in second with 15 points,

Manan's team-mate Tonton Susanto had a scare today when in the final kilometer, a group of riders in front of him crashed. Fortunately for him and his team, Susanto was able to swerve and avoid the crash and thereby retain his red leader's jersey for best overall rider.

The Jelajah Mayalsia wraps up Sunday after 1,004 km. See full coverage of stage five.

King steps up in the ranks

By Sue George

Ben King
Photo ©: Sue George / Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

With up and coming young riders like Ben King, the future of cycling looks bright. After a successful final year in the junior ranks including two junior national titles, King is stepping up to join the Kelly Benefit Strategies / Medifast Pro Cycling Team.

Like many other college freshmen, the 18 year-old King enjoys spending time with his friends, being outside climbing, snowboarding, bow hunting and fishing, or playing the guitar, but in addition, he's also balancing his studies in the business school at Virginia Tech with the training and racing needed to compete with America's top pros.

With the New Year, King has made the move from the Hot Tubes junior development racing squad to the Kelly Benefit Strategies / Medifast Pro Cycling Team directed by Jonas Carney where he'll join team-mates including Andrew Bajadali, Alex Candelario, David Veilleux and Nick Waite.

King first caught the notice of Hot Tubes' director Tobias Stanton when he was just 16 and sitting in third place at the Fitchburg-Longsjo Classic in Massachusetts in 2005. He ended up racing for the squad in 2006 and 2007. "This kid climbs like an angel," said Stanton, "He's an extraordinarily good kid. He's humble, gritty, and tough. He's pleasant to be around."

"When he learns how to race, he'll be a monster. When he's smart, he's unbeatable," said Stanton.

King was just that - unbeatable - at the US Junior Nationals in Seven Springs this past summer when he won both the Junior 17-18 road race and time trial titles.

"I spent the 2007 season trying to make it back on the Worlds team," said King who is from North Garden, Virginia, but resides in Blacksburg during the academic year. "Winning nationals was the only way to guarantee that. Nationals is one of the big races we get to do. I put a lot of pressure on myself to peak for that race. I trained specifically for that all season."

"I had good legs," said King. "When I showed up, I was coming down with a cold. I got down [mentally] before the time trial. I had done everything I could all season and almost didn't race. When I got to the halfway point, I heard that I had some time, so I just went harder and tried not to lose it."

Before the national road race, King and his team-mates had talked about keeping the race together and "not trying to go with anything or waste any energy until two laps to go." Things didn't go quite according to plan.

To read the complete feature, click here.

Germans to send five cross country riders to Olympics

By Susan Westemeyer

Germany will be allowed to start with five riders in the cross country mountain bike competition at the Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, the Bund Deutsche Radfahrer (German cycling federation) announced Friday afternoon. The total of five places, two for women and three for men, is the maximum number that can be awarded.

The national starting places were based on the nation's top three male and female riders in the 2006 and 2007 rankings, as released by the UCI in early January. National trainer Frank Brückner was happy with the results and said, "That show that with our potential, we don't need to hide ourselves.

Talde lana – Euskaltel Euskadi presented in Irún

By Monika Prell

Samuel Sánchez
Photo ©: Monika Prell
(Click for larger image)

Talde lana – Trabajo de equipo: "Team work" was the motto of the 2008 Euskaltel Euskadi presentation on Thursday night in Irún (Gipuzkoa). Steeped in Basque tradition, the squad celebrated its 15th season in the professional peloton.

A group of musicians playing Basque music set the tone for the Euskaltel-Euskadi team presentation in Irún, giving a traditional atmosphere to the celebration of the squad's 15th year, ten of which have fallen under the sponsorship of the Euskaltel company. After a stirring video recap of the 2007 season, the 26 cyclists who will take on the upcoming season on the road were presented one by one.

The four main riders are the Asturian star Samuel Sánchez, the experienced Haimar Zubeldia, young Igor Antón and the veteran Mikel Astarloza. Sánchez will focus this year on the Tour de France, choosing to start his season late, meaning he will skip both Paris-Nice and the Vuelta al País Vasco. "This will be a radical change, and I will miss the spring races. In the Tour, I would like to win a stage, as this is one thing that still lacks in my palmarès. Thinking in the podium is still too premature," said Sánchez.

One of the mayor objectives of Zubeldia will also be the Tour de France, but with a different preparation. "The beginning of the season should be very strong up until Paris-Nice, and then will begin the preparation for the Tour." He does not see a rival in Sánchez in his special subject, the Tour de France, but affirmed that "the fact that Samuel will be at my side will give me tranquility, because the responsibility will be shared."

The Basque team has always been known for its climbers, but for 2008 adds a new weapon to its arsenal in three sprinters: veteran Iñaki Isasi, 26 year-old Koldo Fernández de Larrea, who took his first sprint victory in the 2007 Tirreno-Adriatico, and Aitor Galdos, a fast man who should be able to win a race this year. "I hope to find the form I had two years ago when I was able to win races, and I hope to win races so that the team is happy with me. My participation in the Giro d'Italia will depend upon my performance through Tirreno-Adriatico", said the 28 year-old Galdos.

As in past years, the 2008 Euskaltel-Euskadi group has a large contingent of young riders, including Amets Txurruka, who is one of the big hopes for the future. "I want to show a better performance than last year and to win a race, if possible," said Txurruka, who made a name for himself with his presence in several breakaways during the 2007 Tour de France, and won the most aggressive rider prize. "In principle, I will form part of the Tour team, but until July there is still a long way to go."

Read the full feature here.

Both sides appeal Sinkewitz suspension

By Susan Westemeyer

Both sides are appealing Patrik Sinkewitz' one-year suspension for doping, the Bund Deutsche Radfahrer (BDR, German cycling federation) announced Friday afternoon. The BDR's judicial committee suspended him for one year and ordered him to pay a fine of 40,000 Euro. The BDR's presidium said that it would review the decision at a meeting on January 21. The BDR said that it had also been informed that the rider is also appealing the sentence.

"The BDR is appealing its own decision? I don't understand that," the 27 year-old told the dpa press agency. He then said that he would also appeal the sentence. His attorney, Michael Lehner, conceded that Sinkewitz had not yet paid the fine. He hopes to have the suspension reduced to six months.

Both sides had applauded the sentence when it was handed down. Since then, however, both Lehner and Sinkewitz have given interviews critical of the BDR, and that, together with the unpaid fine, is suspected to be the basis for the BDR's action.

Sinkewitz tested positive for testosterone during an surprise out-of-competition doping control while at a training camp for the Tour de France. He was given a reduced ban of one-year because he cooperated with the investigators.

Kessler protests innocence, will appeal suspension

By Susan Westemeyer

Matthias Kessler continued to protest his innocence on charges that he used testosterone and said that he would appeal the two-year suspension handed down Friday by the Swiss Olympic Committee. He said that he was "disappointed and consternated" by the verdict, adding, "I did not use testosterone. It was obviously a health problem."

His testosterone value was 85:1, with a normal value being 4:1. "It is the highest value ever measured," admitted his attorney, Michael Lehner. He claimed that Kessler's high values were due to an illness, and that he actually had low testosterone and epitestosterone values.

Lehner added that the "arbitrary decision" would be appealed. "I think they we will go to the International sports court CAS, to have it reviewed." In addition, he wants to have the doping-control results reviewed "outside of a doping laboratory."

Kessler's positive doping control was the first of a series of doping problems that rocked the Astana Team and resulted in an upheaval that lead to new management and many new riders. Kessler's positive was followed by Eddy Mazzoleni leaving the team due to his possible involvement in the "Oil for Drugs" investigation, and positives for Alexander Vinokourov and Andrey Kashechkin for blood doping.

Jelajah Malaysia aims to be the best

The peloton is almost as colorful
Photo ©: Jelajah Malaysia
(Click for larger image)

Organizers of the Jelajah Malaysia, which is categorized as a 2.2 UCI race, said they are close to achieving their goal of being the best race in its category.

"First we have to wait for Jelajah Malaysia's post mortem from all side including the media," said Datuk Astaman Abdul Aziz, the race's Executive Chairman and owner of Ten Speed Events Sdn Bhd. "What I can say is JM is already half way approaching its target to be best 2.2 race."

"There are quite a number of them who confuse Jelajah Malaysia with Le Tour de Langkawi. We are not in any way competing with any parties, The Jelajah Malaysia's target is only to be the best 2.2 race not only in Asia but all over the world," said Aziz.

Ten Speed Events Sdn Bhd which is organizing JM for the second year had signed a contract with Malaysia National Cycling Federation (PKBM) to organize the oldest cycling event in Malaysia for three consecutive editions.

Aziz added that feedback and participation of teams have proven that a lot of teams have heard of the race and have been looking forward to participate in the race. "It's a common knowledge that 39 teams wanted to participate this time around but we had to limit to only 21 teams to ensure the quality of the teams and balance local and international teams participation," he said.

Aziz has been satisfied with the crowds attending en route and at the starts and finishes for this year's race.

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