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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News, January 27, 2008

Edited by Laura Weislo

Evans resolving contract issues with Silence - Lotto

By Gerard Knapp in Adelaide

Cadel Evans
Photo ©: Gerard Knapp
(Click for larger image)

Speaking at an impromptu press conference held in the Tour Village at the 2008 Tour Down Under in Adelaide after stage five on Saturday, January 26, Tour de France runner-up Cadel Evans said he was very close to signing a new contract with the Silence - Lotto team and expected to finalise it early next week.

"Issues are being resolved," he said. "A few little papers have got to pass by some lawyers but it's getting resolved," he said. Apparently the issues are of a commercial nature and unrelated to his cycling program.

While it's been reported in Belgian media that Evans will stay with Silence - Lotto until 2010, the Australian had been keeping his options open and wanted to be finalise some commercial aspects. Evans has also wanted to ensure he would have a team that would help him secure that elusive first place in the Tour de France, and a key signing late last year towards that aim was that of Yaroslav Popovych (see the full roster in the Cyclingnews teams database ).

He still made a point of the relative strength of other teams at his press conference. He jokingly said that he hoped that Astana would be in this year's Tour de France as there needs to be "a strong team to control the race".

Evans said his training is going to schedule and he's looking forward to resuming racing on February 17 at the Ruta Del Sol. "I haven't raced yet so I won't know (until that time)," he said.

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Of his aims for the 2008 season - apart from winning the Tour de France - Evans said that retaining the ProTour overall classification will be difficult, as "they've taken all my favourite races out of it". He said his preferred one-day events like the Fleche-Wallonne, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Tour de France (all owned the Amaury Sport Organisation) are no longer part of the ProTour. "I'm glad I won it when I did," he said of his overall classification win in the 2007 ProTour.

The rider will be a guest of honour at a special 'Legends Dinner' that is being held in Adelaide, in conjunction with the Tour Down Under. Evans revealed he had a special guest for the evening. "Yes, my mum's coming along because she wants to meet Big Mig," he said of the major guest-of-honour at the dinner, five-time Tour de France winner, Miguel Indurain, who's been holidaying in Australia since well before the Tour Down Under.

Davis prepares for one last crack at the overall

By Gerard Knapp in Adelaide

Allan Davis (UniSA-Australia)
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image)

Going into the sixth and final stage of the 2008 Tour Down Under, UniSA - Australia's sprinter Allan Davis trails dominant race leader Andre Greipel of Team High Road by only seven seconds. After the stage, Davis told Cyclingnews that the Tour was by no means over, and he and his team were going to have a really good crack at the overall win.

"Definitely," he said when asked if his team was going all-out to secure the win. In today's stage five, Davis made the final selection up the Old Willunga Hill and followed Greipel across the line in second place. Greipel secured a 10 second time bonus and Davis, six seconds. That deficit helped extend Greipel's GC advantage over Davis from three to seven seconds.

"We've got 88km to go yet and we'll be fighting for the last centimetre," Davis declared. "Another day to go and we're not going to stop fighting.

"Seven seconds, it's winable, we can win it from there," he said. "There are 3-2-1 bonus sprints, plus a 10-6-4 sprint at the end. There's more than seven seconds to gain there. As long as we go down fighting, we're all happy."

Despite Davis' willingness to attack on Sunday, the final stage is hardly conducive to major time gaps being created. It's a flat yet twisting 5.5km city street circuit that the field will complete 16 times for a total stage length of 88km. There are two intermediate sprints and then the final sprint, offering time bonuses of six and 10 seconds, respectively, plus time bonuses for the minor placings.

"Personally I need this win," Davis added. "An overall win would be great for my resume."

Davis would have finish in front of Greipel in at least two of those three sprints, and that's assuming Greipel doesn't finish better than third. However, Greipel has been the form sprinter of this year's TDU, with three stage wins as well as a victory last Sunday in the Down Under Classic. Adding some family tension into the mix is that Davis' brother, Scott, is on Team High Road, and will have to work against his brother to help Greipel secure the win.

There was a similar situation in last year's final stage of the TDU, where Ag2r's Martin Elmiger held a one second advantage over Karl Menzies, who was also riding for the composite team UniSA. However, Menzies and his UniSA squad - that also included Allan Davis - was unable to erase that deficit and Elmiger went on to win the 2007 TDU.

While many may see Greipel's seven second advantage as being insurmountable, given his current form, as well as the flat parcours and the strength of Team High Road, Davis will certainly have a home advantage; the support of the crowd.

Speaking at a press conference after stage 5, even Cadel Evans of Silence - Lotto said he backed the plucky Australian sprinter. "I'm an Allan Davis fan," he said, "and I'd really like to see a fight to the finish."

Hayman understanding as Rigotto weeps

By Greg Johnson in Adelaide, Australia

Matthew Hayman (Rabobank) haa
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image)

Australian Mathew Hayman (Rabobank) has said he doesn't believe the head-but which left him with a broken collarbone in Friday's Stage 4 of the Tour Down Under was malicious, despite a commissaire describing the incident as "very, very vicious". Hayman was knocked to the ground by Italian Elia Rigotto (Team Milram), who became the first rider to be ejected from the tour following the incident.

"I don't believe it was malicious - we race together all the time," said a sympathetic Hayman. "I heard he's pretty upset and I really feel for him."

Rigotto admitted he wept in his room for two hours after the incident on Friday afternoon, before booking a flight home. The Italian decided to leave Australia first thing on Saturday morning, rather than wait until his squad leaves on Monday.

"I cried two hours," Rigotto told La Gazzetta Dello Sport. "I have been a cyclist for 18 years and never done anything wrong.

"I tried to evade him and I lost balance - I hurt him," added the rider. "I'm concerned about Hayman. Immediately after I went to [Graeme] Brown to apologise."

Despite his remorse, Rigotto believes his exclusion from the entire race was harsh, a sentiment even Hayman agreed with. Rigotto became the first rider in the Tour Down Under's 10 years to be thrown off the entire race, with the most severe punishment previously handed down being exclusion from selected stages.

"It's a shame he's gone home," said Hayman. "Everybody wants to come to Australia and it's a shame to leave that way."

Hayman, who hadn't yet seen the television footage from the accident, said he would have a letter written to him in Italian by Rigotto translated last night. The Australian doesn't expect there to be any bad blood between them in the future.

"You know, we've race together all these years and I've hardly spoken to him - but we will probably talk now," added Hayman. "I'm not going to be looking for him in an alley in the near future."

Hayman underwent a successful operation on Friday evening to have a plate and screws inserted into his shoulder to help the broken left collarbone heal quicker. The rider is expected to return to the bike late next week.

Millar wants top three in Qatar TTT

By Shane Stokes in Doha, Qatar

This season is a big year for Team Slipstream Chipotle, and for this reason starting its season with a strong showing in Saturday's team time trial at the Tour of Qatar is important.

"We are aiming for a top three placing," confirmed David Millar to Cyclingnews on Saturday. "We had a really good training camp the week before coming here. We were doing a lot of specific stuff, split sessions, etcetera, and it was great.

"I think that the guys we have got here are all flatland riders and we have been doing pretty work for it, so there is no reason why we can't get a good first result [of the season]."

The team's biggest goal for the season is to ride the Tour de France. For that reason, showing its strength in ASO-events is important, but Millar said that a good performance for its own stake is his goal.

"It is obviously part of the motivation [making a good impression prior to the Tour selection], but it is our first race and we are taking every race we do seriously. We just want to set a high standard for our racing for this year, and I think the fact that it is an ASO event just happens to be a secondary thing."

Millar is not sure what to expect after the team time trial as regards how he will perform on the road stages. "I have no idea," he said. "I have never raced in January before, it is not something I do normally. But we are here with CJ [Chris Sutton], Julian [Dean], Maggie [Magnus Backstedt] who are all going well, so we are just going to just play it by ear.

"We are going to learn from each race - it is the first time that any of us has raced together, it is a new setup, so I think that this week is going to be a lot of experimentation, trying different things, doing lead-outs, attacking. Just being at the front of the race."

By his own admission, 2007 was a season where overtraining affected his form. He's feeling more positive about how things look now, and this is due in part to his work with a new trainer. "I have been working with Greg LeMonde's old coach Adrie van Diemen, and it has been really good. He was at our training camp before here and that was great - it meant that we were actually doing proper training, rather than just going out on the usual rides.

"I feel really good. I had a good winter. I have been really lucky not to have any illnesses or injuries during the winter, so you can't really ask for more."

A full interview with David Millar will appear soon on Cyclingnews.

'John Doe' identified in USADA lawsuit

Kayle Leogrande (Rock Racing)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

One day after reports that an anonymous rider was suing the United States Anti-doping Agency, wire reports have identified the aggrieved cyclist as Rock Racing rider Kayle Leogrande. According to the Associated Press, unnamed sources identified the 30 year-old as the athlete who sued the agency to block testing of a 'B' sample.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Los Angeles, claimed that USADA was violating its own rules by ordering the testing of the rider's 'B' sample even though the 'A' sample was declared negative. The identity of the athlete was blocked from the public.

Because the lawyers hired by the plaintiff were the same high-powered attorneys, Maurice Suh and Howard Jacobs, hired by Floyd Landis, there had been speculation that Landis was the rider in question, but multiple reports have named Leogrande as the unnamed cyclist. Neither USADA general counsel Bill Bock nor Suh were able to comment.

The AP article went on to claim that the urine samples in question were taken at the International Cycling Classic, also known as Superweek, in Wisconsin last July, where Leogrande won three stages and finished second overall.

Americans recon Treviso course sans-Trebon

By Brecht Decaluwé in Treviso

The USA's men's cyclo-cross team took to the La Bandie world championship course in between the junior and U23 races on Saturday to do a last reconnaissance before Sunday's race. Cyclingnews talked with Jeremy Powers and Tim Johnson, who will tackle the race alongside last year's silver medallist Jonathan Page without their countryman Ryan Trebon. The team was reduced from four when Trebon abandoned his bid for the World Championships after suffering the effects of his December crash at the US nationals.

Powers was realistic about his chances on a power-rider's course. "I rode all the difficult parts and know what to look out for," said Powers. "The steep hill [Rampa piscine] will not make the difference because you have to save something for the other parts of the course," he explained. "The only rider that rode up that hill today was Sven Nys.

"My feeling is that you need a big engine to win the race. For me personally, I would be happy with a top-25 result; that would mean I had a good day," Powers admitted. "I'm feeling really good and confident. Mentally it helps to know that we're heading back to the US after this race. It's been a long season of more than five months," Powers said. The 24 year-old started his season early on in the US and then flew over in December to compete in the European races.

Meanwhile US-champion Tim Johnson joined his friend after doing a couple of laps on the course with an onboard camera. The 30 year-old caught a cold last week and he expressed back then that he wouldn't be ready for the World Championships. "I feel strong, but it's not everything that I normally would have. I will be happy if I finish and feel as healthy as before the race," Johnson said to Cyclingnews. When asked about his favourite for the win on Sunday the US-champion didn't hesitate and went for Dutch ace Lars Boom.

UCI and federations make progress

Di Rocco "happy" with meetings

By Gregor Brown and Brecht Decaluwé in Treviso

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

The UCI and five national federations met Saturday morning in Treviso to address the issues regarding races organised by ASO, RCS Sport and Unipublic, which the federations threatened to hold outside the aegis of the UCI. The groups came away from the meeting with a decision to place the most prestigious events run by those three groups on a calendar separate from the UCI's European calendar.

The represented national federations agreed that the Grand Tours and four (of five) 'monuments' will comprise the new calendar: Tour de France, Giro d'Italia, Vuelta a España, Milano-Sanremo, Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Giro di Lombardia.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) Management Committee and UCI President Pat McQuaid met the presidents of the Belgian, French, Italian, Spanish and Luxembourg national federations to discuss the matter. Italian cycling federation (FCI) President Renato Di Rocco expressed his support for the creation of a 'special calendar' dedicated to races that make up cycling's heritage. "I'm happy," confirmed FCI President Di Rocco. "It was a good meeting. We're not in a war with the UCI. We didn't plan to step away from UCI. We're searching for the best possible solution.)

(Also read UCI seeks solution to federations row for more from the UCI.)

The heads of the national federations of Italy, France and Spain still need to meet with their respective Grand Tours to obtain their support for the calendar. While making this concession to the federations, McQuaid did not change his stance on his firm opinion that all ProTour teams should gain an automatic invitation to the Tour de France.

"All 18 ProTour teams have to take part in the Tour de France, the ASO can then add wildcard teams from the list of 12 who are using the biological passport system," McQuaid stated. "Only the Tour has to take the 18 ProTour teams, the other races on this new calendar can choose any team out of the 30 available teams," McQuaid continued, referring to the list of ProTour and Professional Continental teams which earned the special 'wild card' status by agreeing to the UCI's biological passport system.

The French Federation will speak with the organiser of the Tour de France, ASO. "There's no indication if ASO will accept this or not," McQuaid conceded.

Di Rocco said that the calendar will need some new terminology. "We asked that the races... remain at the first level, they are not ProTour. We have to decide on a name for these races, we said 'monuments' but this is like talking about a cemetery."

Di Rocco was content with the agreement as a step forward, but still shied away from the ProTour system. "You are not able to say that the UCI ProTour is the only is the only instrument to globalise cycling. There are other events, like the Tour de France, which has a huge media impact in the world... also the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España.

"In Italy there are five nations that live all year here, including England and Australia," he continued. "I also believe that we are a part of this globalisation. We should not only think of the UCI as the marketing arm of cycling, even though we see growth in Australia [Tour Down Under] and [the Tour of] California – this is only a commercial activity of the UCI."

McQuaid remained optimistic about the future of the series, which is in its fourth year, "Yes, there is a future for the ProTour, it will keep developing. All races in the ProTour are important. There is a reason for the ProTour to stay. Robbie McEwen recently said at the Tour Down Under that 'there are no mokes in the ProTour. Every rider in the ProTour is a valuable rider.'"

He confirmed the calendar and his organisation's continued expansion outside of Europe. "The big races are the history of cycling and they help to develop the sport as well, even outside of Europe. With races like the Tour of China it is not our objective to fight the Vuelta, for example. We take these races in the ProTour from a marketing and commercial point of view."

The presidents of the national federations expressed hope that the race organisers would, for their part, respect the UCI ProTour and that today's 'special calendar' would help end the differences that followed from last fall's race reorganisation.

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

Klöden recovers from illness in time for camp

Andreas Klöden was to meet his new Astana teammates for the first time last week at the team's U.S. training camp, but he got off to a rocky start. He arrived in Albuquerque, New Mexico with a fever and went straight to bed, where he stayed until mid-day Friday. By Friday evening he was feeling well enough to eat with his team-mates and was expected to go out on a light training ride with the others on Saturday. The German would ride for about one hour, while the rest of the team put in four hours.

Team spokesman Philippe Maertens told Cyclingnews that the team isn't worried about the slender German, as "he already looked good yesterday [Friday] evening, when he finally got to make his first acquaintance with the new team."

MacIntyre fund hits five figures

In just ten days, the memorial fund to benefit the family of Scottish rider Jason MacIntyre, who was killed after being struck by a transit van while out training last week has achieved its £20,000 target.

Donations came from as far as Australia, Canada, the US and Malaysia after the Braveheart Cycling Fund helped set up the appeal to benefit Mac Intyre's widow, Caroline, and twin daughters.

The 34-year-old rider, who was the national time trial champion and an Olympic hopeful, was remembered by hundreds of family and friends at his funeral last Wednesday, and will be further honoured with a memorial ride which was scheduled to take place Saturday.

Feillu ill

French sprinter Roman Feillu (Agritubel) has been diagnosed with toxoplasmosis, his team announced Saturday. The 23-year-old rider who was the revelation of 2007 has been complaining of fatigue since the end of the season. He will now miss the start of this season as he has been told to rest for several weeks by the Agritubel team medical staff.

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