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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News, July 18, 2008

Edited by Greg Johnson and Bjorn Haake

Serious questions exist for biological passport

By Shane Stokes

The UCI may shut down the biological passport programme
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Click for larger image

Following this week's decision that the eighteen ProTour teams would no longer be part of the UCI's series from 2009 onwards, the governing body has asked the teams to decide before July 22nd if they wish to continue in the biological passport or not.

Considerable doubt exists about the future of the biological passport, not least because the UCI has dismissed the invitation from the teams and Grand Tour organisers to work with them on the new project.

The UCI describes this as unacceptable, saying that the proposed new system both undermines its role as a governing body and also gives too much power to ASO, a commercial organisation which the UCI says is primarily concerned with financial gain. The UCI alleges that what has happened is tantamount to blackmail on the part of the teams.

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In a communication sent to those teams on Wednesday, the UCI states that if they decide to go their own way, that they will lose out in a number of areas. It says that it would no longer deal with issues such as registration procedures, management of bank guarantees, management of conflicts between teams and riders, providing commissaires and UCI disciplinary procedures.

"Without doubt, the quality of the organisation of your professional cycling will suffer, but that does not seem to give you concern," the communiqué warns.

"More complicated problems lie ahead for doping controls and the biological passport. If the UCI will no longer be your federation, it can not and should not do more anti-doping controls on the riders of your team, especially random checks.

"Regarding the biological passport, the situation is unusual in that it is a project already underway. You understand that the UCI could not continue a project so complicated and expensive for teams that have pledged to leave in five months."

It says that the teams need to decide to what extent they continue in the biological passport for the remainder of 2008.

"In all cases, the UCI does not want the anti-doping battle to suffer from your decision and, with the consent of the riders, their values blood collected up to now may be transmitted to the [anti-doping] body that you indicate to us."

The communiqué then points out that the UCI is paying 660,000 euro per annum to run the biological passport, and that the expected contribution from the Grand Tour and the French ministry of 1 million euro has not been paid. It states that fees will be charged from August 1, and asks the teams to indicate by July 22nd at the latest if they agree to cover those costs plus the already-planned contribution of €120,000. If not, the biological passport for each team will be stopped.

"It is not logical that the UCI pays for a biological passport to be used by a dissident federation within the next few months," the communiqué states. It says that for any teams who decide they wish to continue with the UCI biological passport in 2009 and onwards, that a discussion of costs must be made.

In the letter, the UCI also argues that the proposed new system's guarantee of two year participation in the major events is less than the four years planned under the ProTour, and that this will impact on the ability to get sponsors.

"It means that teams can no longer sign contracts for four years, since they can no longer give guarantees beyond 2010."

The biological passport programme had started to come in doubt as early as June, when ASO announced the Tour de France would be governed by the French federation rather than by the UCI.

Cyclingnews plans to get feedback from team managers about these developments.

Oroz joins the break

Oroz was in the day's break and is getting more confident
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

First time Tour participant Juan José Oroz of Euskaltel Euskadi joined the break of the day in stage 12 with some 50 kilometres to go. But it became clear that the attempt would fail when the sprinters' teams hit the front in earnest. It was the first time Oroz had joined such a move.

Oroz had no regrets to make his move. "Little by little, I started to get into the race. I knew that today would be complicated. The sprinters' teams had shown a lot of interest to control the stage, but it was necessary to try it [the escape - ed.] There was a lot of wind, and you never know what might happen."

Overall, Oroz is happy with his inaugural Tour attempt. "For being my first Tour, things are going very well. I am starting to get confidence in my abilities. There are still many stages to go and we will try again, hopefully with more luck." Oroz is 102nd in GC, one hour and 20 minutes behind Evans. But his move may have sparked the desire for more moves in the coming days.

Euskaltel Euskadi has the big objective of taking out at least one stage win. The team has been quiet so far with results in this year's Tour de France, although it certainly put its share of work in on the front, especially in the mountains.

For the other objective, to place a rider within the top 10, Euskaltel Euskadi has two options. Mikel Astarloza is ranked ninth, at 3'51 of Evans. Samuel Sánchez is 35 seconds and two places behind Astarloza.

Stay tuned for a closer look on Oroz at Cyclingnews. He is the only rider in the pro peloton to have completed all the monuments since last October.

Sastre: A fast and nervous stage

Carlos Sastre continues to sit in sixth place overall in the 95th Tour de France. The CSC-Saxo Bank team has great ambitions for the overall. Sastre's team-mate, Fränk Schleck, is placed second, just one second back. The current transitional days aren't days to make ground in the overall battle. But a crash can easily cost all chances for winning in Paris. Current race leader Cadel Evans already had his scare in stage 9.

Sastre described his feelings of stage 12 after the stage. "Today's stage was very fast, but bearable. In the first part, the roads were very straight, constantly going up and down. It was very nervous. The wind came from the coast; it was a tailwind, so the pace of the group really increased. It made the stage real fast and real nervous."

The problem of such a stage is the affects on the head. "Above all it wears us out mentally." Sastre was happy that he and his team-mates managed to finish the stage without any accidents. He described the team as very motivated and was happy he and his buddies were able to survive another day with the big goal of winning the Tour de France in mind.

Brown gets an Oscar

The wife of Rabobank's Graeme Brown, Hayley, gave birth to the pair's first child on Thursday night - Andy Oscar Brown. The addition to the Brown family came at 18:25 on Thursday night in a Perth, Australia, hospital with reports from Graeme's parents saying both Hayley and Andy are doing well.

Unlike his sprinting ace father, Andy didn't blast into the world in any great hurry. Instead he was five days overdue, with Graeme returning to Perth two weeks ago in anticipation of his first son's birth.

Graeme will leave Australia tomorrow to join his Australian colleagues at an Olympic training camp. The rider burst onto the cycling scene in 1997 when he claimed the Junior World Cycling Championship title in Capetown, South Africa at just 18. Since then he has built a reputation as a strong sprinter, and claimed two Olympic Games gold medals at the 2004 edition in Athens, Greece.

Pucinskaite prepares for Olympics

Edita Puckinskaite gets ready for the Olympics with a high-altitude training
Photo ©:
(Click for larger image)

Lithuanian Edita Pucinskaite is currently in an altitude training camp in Italy to prepare for the upcoming Olympic Games. Pucinskaite is dreaming of taking out the gold medal in the women's road race, to be held on August 10. Pucinskaite is preparing the event in Beijing on the 2,300-metre high Passo del Foscagno.

The Games are on Pucinskaite's mind a lot. "It is true, the Olympics are the main objective of my entire season. I am relaxed – everything will turn out the best. I came out of the Giro getting better and better. Now I hope that I can rediscover my form from last season."

Pucinskaite finished sixth in the recent Giro d'Italia Femminile.

Pucinskaite hopes that the altitude training will pay off for her. She is sincere about the training and only fears one thing. "The important part is, as always, to stay injury-free."

The road race itself will be an interesting experience. "It will be a special race, with few participants – around 65 – and with little team tactics going on. Fortunately, I have my [trade] team-mate Modesta Vzeniuskaite on my side. She will be of great help to me."

Her objectives are clear. "These are probably my last Olympics Games, my third ones ... It is an opportunity that I don't want to pass up. I will give my maximum to achieve the optimal result."

Pucinskaite is also registered for the time trial. But she isn't 100% sure yet if she will participate. "We will make a final decision after the road race."

The Lithuanian rider was happy with the Giro d'Italia, even though she knew she couldn't contest for the overall victory. "Last winter I had to choose when to peak in the season. First Beijing, then the Worlds in Verona. It certainly would have been nice to get onto the podium, though."

The Lithuanian thought she had the means to do it. "Apart from Luperini, the GC contenders were more or less the same level. One day one rider went stronger, the other day it was another. But I compromised everything on the Passo del Cuvignone [stage 6 - ed.] It was raining during the descent and at the bottom I punctured. At that moment I realised that my Giro, at least for the podium, was over."

Ireland names three more squads

The Tour of Ireland has announced three more teams which will contest this year's edition on August 27-31 - CSF Group Navigare, and Joker-Bianchi. Giro d'Italia stage winer Matteo Priamo will lead the CSF Group Navigare squad which will also feature Argentinean sprinter Ruben Bongiorno has listed a strong team for the event which starts in Dublin. The Australian team dominated the Tour of Japan in May where Simon Clarke, Zakkari Dempster and Wesley Sulzberger each won stages and helped Cameron Meyer to win the overall classification. Meyer’s brother Travis will represent the family in Ireland and has already shown that he is just as capable of winning events. The 19 year-old from Perth won the Tours of Berlin and New Zealand this year and is a former junior triple world track cycling champion.

Joker-Bianchi will fly in from Norway hoping to repeat their 2007 success when Edvald Boasson-Hagen won stage four into Galway as part of Team Maxbo-Bianchi. Boasson Hagen was snapped up by Team Columbia this year but Joker-Bianchi is very excited about their new young prospects Ole Haavardsholm and Ingar Stokstad. Alexander Kristoff, Lars Petter Nordhaug, Joachim Bohler and Frederik Willman will return with the squad, having featured in its roster for last year's race.

With Team Columbia and Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30 already confirmed for the five-day race, race organiser Alan Rushton believes that race will be very exciting this year. “We have chosen a course that we believe provides a platform where victory could come from the climbers, roulers or even the sprinters,” said Rushton. “Everyday will be different right from the start when the race leaves Dublin and heads into Wicklow on the way to Waterford. We might even see a race where the overall winner only emerges from the dramatic last stage when the peloton arrives in Cork on Sunday.

"There will be plenty of daily action with special competitions for the King of the Mountains and in the An Post green jersey competition for sprinters,” he added.

Seymour goes for number fifteen

By Shane Stokes

Robin Seymour has the chance to take a remarkable fifteenth successive win in the Irish cross country championships in Kilruddery this Sunday. The Team WORC rider is continuing his preparations for the Olympic Games in Beijing and hopes to continue his winning streak in the Irish event.

Last year he beat Niall Davis (IMBRC) and Irish cyclocross champion Roger Aiken (Banbridge CC) in the race.

Tarja Owens (Team WORC) is expected to return from her new base in Italy and chase what would be her thirteenth title. She had taken twelve in a row but was beaten into second place last year by Beth McCluskey (Epic).

USAC opens up NRC bids

USA Cycling has announced the opening of bids for the 2009 National Racing Calendar, which is expected to be announced in October. Race promoters wanting to apply can download an application from the to throw their hats into the ring for next year's series.

Bids will be accepted through to September 15 for the 2009 championship, which will be in its 13th season next year. The bids process for next year's series has been open earlier this year to allow for a comprehensive and collaborative evaluation process for all bids.

"USA Cycling believes the longer application process will result in a more in-depth assessment of bids and ultimately a better stage on which to feature competitive men’s and women’s road cycling in America," said USAC in a release.

The NRC represents the most prestigious collection of competitive road cycling events in the United States for professional and amateur cyclists. Typically occurring from March through September, the 2008 NRC featured 35 events with an overall prize list of more than $1.1 million.

Peter Winnen Classics taking shape

Former ex-professional Peter Winnen will have two events named after him this year. The first one is on August 16, starting in his birthplace Ysselsteyn, Netherlands. The second one will be held in September in Ethiopia.

The money raised in the August event is for a good cause. It will go towards the Ethiopia project of the Bike4All Foundation. The foundation supports cycling in poor countries. Winnen is a board member of Bike4All.

In his career Peter Winnen won the famed Alpe d'Huez Tour stage twice. He finished third in the overall of the 1983 Tour and also won the young rider classification in 1981. In 1990 he became the Dutch National champion.

More info on the Bike4All Foundation is available at

Your chance to win in the Cyclingnews-Felt TdF competition!

You can win this!
Photo ©: Felt
(Go to the competition page)

Here's your chance to win some great prizes while the 2008 Tour de France is underway, featuring a prize roster of kit that is being tested in the world's greatest bike race by some of the world's leading cyclists.

Our lead prize is the 2009 model Felt AR road frame, currently being ridden in the Tour de France by members of the Garmin-Chiplotle professional cycling team, as well as supplementary prizes from Craft - manufacturer of team clothing to CSC-Saxo - and eyewear from BBB, supplier to Team Barloworld.

The US-based Felt Bicycles is becoming one of the world's leading bicycle manufacturers, with its bikes now being raced by the USA's Garmin-Chipotle in the 2008 Tour de France. The team are riding the 2009 model Felt AR, which combines Felt's expertise in time trial and track bike technology, while maintaining the necessary ride and handling characteristics of premium road bikes.

But wait! There's more. All entrants in the Cyclingnews-Felt 2008 TdF competition will also go into the draw to win great supplementary prizes from our friends at Craft and BBB. Cyclingnews also has four 2008 model Team CSC jerseys, designed and made by Craft, one of the world's leading technical clothing manufacturers, as well as 10 sets of BBB's BSG-29 Attacker eyewear, the exact eyewear used by riders from Team Barloworld in this year's TdF.

Our thanks to our friends at Felt, Craft and BBB for providing such awesome prizes. Hurry and enter now to be in the draw. Good luck!

Stage video highlights and podcasts

Just can't get enough of the Tour? Well fear not because Cyclingnews has expanded its coverage once again this year to bring you video highlights of every stage plus daily podcasts courtesy of and Procycling magazine.

Our video comes directly from Tour de France owners Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), and will be online shortly after the finish of each stage. We've also got highlights from classic Tours of the past so click here to see the full archive.

Check out the podcasts page in our Tour de France section for a full round-up of news and views from the Tour.

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