Latest Cycling News, January 16, 2008
Edited by Gregor Brown
Haussler heads down under
By Susan Westemeyer in Gerolstein, Germany
German-Australian Heinrich Haussler of Team Gerolsteiner usually spends his off-season in Australia before returning to Europe for the season. But this year the 23 year-old reversed that schedule, spending the fall in Europe and heading off to Australia this week for the Tour Down Under.
He had important things to do in Europe this fall, among them having his physical problems seen too. Back and knee problems made 2007 difficult for him. "I've been doing a lot of physical therapy, three to four times a week," he told Cyclingnews Tuesday at the Gerolsteiner team presentation.
Haussler also had some time for fun and personal matters. "In December I was in St. Moritz for three weeks skiing. Then I moved from Cottbus to Freiburg." He won't be alone in Freiburg, as team-mates Johannes Fröhlinger, Matthias Russ and Fabian Wegmann also live in the area.
He is now preparing to fly to his native land for the Tour Down Under, "although my form is not top at the moment." Then he will finally spend some family-time in Australia. After the race, he will go home. "I'll go back to my Inverell where my parents live, and train there for two and a half weeks."
There is a good reason for the fourth-year pro to stay "down under." After training in Australia, he will hop on a plane to the West Coast of the United States and ride the Tour of California. "I could come back to Europe, but the weather's better [in Australia], then there's the time difference again and the chance of getting sick because it's so cold here. So I'll stay with my parents and train there."
Looking further down the road, Haussler said that his first real season goal is a good performance in the Spring Classics. "That is what I want," with an emphasis on "Milano-Sanremo, Roubaix and Flanders. Then afterwards I'll have a bit of a rest, and then the Tour de France."
Moisés Dueñas prepares with Barloworld
By Antonio J. Salmerón
Spanish climber Moisés Dueñas will start a training camp with his new team, Barloworld, today in Marina di Bibbona (Toscana), Italy. The 26 year-old is looking forward to racing with his third-ever professional team, following Relax and Agritubel.
"Whenever you change teams you are a little nervous, but at the same time very with a big desire to prove yourself. Personally, I am very happy because I have seen Barloworld is a great formation," he noted.
Dueñas views the Great Britain registered team's non-ProTour status as a blessing. "As it is cycling, I fully understand this decision," he continued of the team not upgrading to the ProTour level. "Being a ProTour team adds nothing, it only brings problems ... [Entries into the] Tour de France or Giro d'Italia are something that we can achieve by our strength. Personally, I think the ProTour will eventually disappear because it makes no sense."
The Giro and Tour will be the centre of Colombian Mauricio Soler's programme, who Dueñas hopes to assist. "The team wants me to be the rider who is with Soler in the mountain stages of the Tour, since I will not dispute the Giro," he continued of the rider who won the mountains classification of the 2007 Tour. "It will be an accomplishment to stay with him, and a sign that I can do a good Tour.
"I dream of doing something big in the Tour de France, although I do not know whether it will be a good classification or a stage," stated the rider from Salamanca, who won the 2006 Tour de l'Avenir and 2007 Regio Tour.
He will start his season in Italy before returning to home roads. "I debut February 9 in Italy [GP Etruschi - ed.], and my first competition in Spain will be the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon, at the end of March." He indicated that Subida al Naranco, Vuelta Ciclista Asturias and Euskal Bizikleta are also on his programme, but not his country's major tour, the Vuelta a España. "We have no plan a third major tour," Dueñas concluded.
However, in the second half of the season, Dueñas will be motivated by the team's new arrival. His brother, Hector, is expected to join Barloworld in August.
Wiener Blut – blood bank causes stir
By Susan Westemeyer and Katharina Schulz
Wiener Blut is the title of a waltz and operetta by Johan Strauss II, but nowadays 'Viennese blood' has another meaning. Human Plasma, a blood bank in Vienna, Austria, is the new centre of attention of anti-doping officials around Europe. It has been alleged that some 30 to 50 world-class athletes visited the facilities for forbidden blood transfusions. While most of them are said to be cross-country skiers and biathletes, the names of a few professional cyclists have appeared as well.
The Dutch team Rabobank is the most heavily involved in the media stories, as Denis Menchov and former riders Michael Boogerd and Michael Rasmussen are said to have been clients, charges which all three and the team deny.
"It has never been proved that Michael Rasmussen doped," Rasmussen's manager Mads Frederiksen said to Danish news agency Ritzau. "Every time there were allegations, they just dissolved into thin air. It is therefore completely uncalled for that the media keep coming forward with unsubstantiated accusations like the ones from ARD now."
"We can't concern ourselves with that right now. We have a 'small' case with Rabobank going on which we are hoping to resolve soon and then we want Michael to start racing again, and that's our priority."
"This is an enormous blot on my career," Boogerd told telesport.nl of the news. "None of what is being reported is true, but who will believe me? I had to read the news on the internet. I have heard nothing from an official agency. I deny all involvement."
Former Austrian professional Georg Totschnig, who retired from Team Gerolsteiner at the end of 2006, was mentioned as a client. He also vehemently denied any involvement, telling the Austrian newspaper Kurier, "I don't know how my name could have popped up." He wasn't sure at the moment of his next step. "I have to wait and see where this comes from. I hope to find out more details."
According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Human Plasma director Lothar Baumgaratner at first denied that the firm could perform blood-doping, but later confirmed that it does indeed have the appropriate equipment.
Petacchi aims for Sanremo repeat
Italian Alessandro Petacchi will aim for a repeat of his 2005 Milano-Sanremo victory this spring. The 34 year-old sprinter of Team Milram noted La Classicissima as one of his season's top goals at the German team's presentation in Bremen last week.
"I insert Milano-Sanremo amongst the objectives of Gent-Wevelgem and stage of the Giro d'Italia for the first part of the season, which I believe I can re-conquer after three years," the rider from La Spezia (Liguria) said to Tuttosport. He will begin his racing season with the GP Etruschi di Donoratico on February 9.
The Italian matched Italy's last super-sprinter's – Mario Cipollini – win in Sanremo but has not been able to do so in the Northern Classic Gent-Wevelgem. The Tuscan sprinter won there three times (1992, 1993 and 2002) while 'Ale-Jet' finds the Belgium roads hard to manage.
The birth of a new baby – due in May from wife Anna Chiara – will provide inspiration for Petacchi's summer. "I would like to return to the Tour [de France] after a two-year absence, and aim for the Hamburg Cyclassics."
Petacchi will once again have the support of Erik Zabel, who is entering his 16th and final season. The German – a four-time winner of Sanremo – promised his services to his "friend." "I am 37 years old and I really believe that this will be my last season. I want to understand if it still pleases me to sprint with my rivals with my friend Alessandro or if instead there is something broken inside of me."
Gerolsteiner's brother act continues
By Susan Westemeyer in Gerolstein, Germany
Team Gerolsteiner has traditionally had a strong family feeling, and that has continued this year, with the many brothers associated with the team.
Marcus and Thomas Fothen both ride for the team and both hope for a better season than in 2007, when the two brought in a total of one victory.
Marcus, 26, who was supposed to have been Tour de France captain, finished down in 34th place. In 2008 he hopes to be closer to his 15th place finish of 2006, if not higher. "I want to finish in the top ten," he said Tuesday at the Gerolsteiner presentation in Gerolstein, Germany. Meanwhile, younger brother Thomas, 24, is also looking for a better year.
Another pair is Christian and Fabian Wegmann. Christian, 31, is in his third year as a directeur sportif for the team, and admitted, "In my first race I had absolutely no idea what I was supposed to do." He must have learned quickly, though. He was successful in guiding younger brother Fabian to victory in the first race that the two worked together, the GP Miguel Indurain.
Fabian, 27, said modestly that "the past season went well for me," and that he is looking forward to wearing the German national champion's jersey again this season. His big goal this year is the World Championships. "It is a good course for me. And the Olympics, of course."
One brother pair has separated. Beat Zberg, 36, retired at the end of the season, leaving Markus, 33, on his own at the team. But it seems likely that the Swiss brothers will see each other during the season. "My goal is the Tour de Suisse," Markus said. "I won a stage there 10 years ago, I think it is time to win again there." He will see a familiar face there: Beat now works for the Tour de Suisse management.
Eisel enjoying the Australian sun
By Susan Westemeyer
Bernhard Eisel of Team High Road has been in Australia since January 11 preparing for the Tour Down Under – or at least, that is the official reason he is there. "I don't really care about the race. I'm just here to train and enjoy the sun," he said half-jokingly.
Writing on his website, eisel.com, the Austrian noted, "The important thing is that I get ready here for the races in Europe. My form is good, but the intensity is missing. But I ought to get enough of that in a week of racing."
The 26 year-old may consider the sprint stages in the Tour Down Under. "We'll see. Besides, we have two other fast men with us, André Greipel and Greg Henderson. And for the overall title we have the Australian time trial champion and road runner-up, Adam Hansen. He is in outstanding condition and has very good chances for the overall victory."
Giro considers nightly shows
RCS Sport, organisers of the Giro d'Italia, is considering adding nightly shows to attract even more spectator interest to its three-week race.
"We are evaluating the possibility of re-launching the nightly performances at the Giro d'Italia's host cities to bring about public and outside interests," noted Angelo Zomegnan, events director of RCS Sport, to Agr. "Music and comedies are always valuable in grabbing diverse attention during the travelling race, which represents a party for every host city."
The organiser's plan comes on the heels of its announcement of the return of the historic maglia nera in the form of the numero nero.
Domenico Massa passes away
Domenico Massa, born in Mele (Genova), passed away yesterday at the age of 91 according to Agr. The close-friend of Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali was known as a gregario of Costante Girardengo, two-time winner of the Giro d'Italia and six-time Milano-Sanremo.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing Limited 2007)