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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, June 4, 2008

Edited by Ben Abrahams

Tour de France under the control of FFC and AFLD

ASO repeats opposition to the closed system of the UCI ProTour

By Jean-François Quénet in Paris

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

At a press conference in Paris on Tuesday, Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme has confirmed his request for the French cycling federation (FFC) to sanction the 2008 Tour de France as it did for Paris-Nice in March. The request comes after the International Cycling Union (UCI) refused to cease disciplinary action against the FFC for its support of Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) at Paris-Nice.

Prudhomme repeated ASO's opposition to the closed system of the ProTour and regretted the UCI's refusal to let all Grand Tours select their starting teams. While the Giro and the Vuelta were allowed to choose their participating teams, the Tour de France was required by the UCI to invite all 18 ProTour teams. In February, ASO decided to leave out Astana and has now refused its signature event to be registered on the UCI calendar.

"We have asked the FFC to sanction the Tour de France and the AFLD (French anti-doping agency) will be in charge of the controls before and during the Tour de France," Prudhomme announced.

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Cyclingnews will cover the 60th edition of the Dauphiné Libéré live as of stage 4 on Wednesday, June 10, at approximately 15:00 local Europe time (CEST)/ 23:00 Australian time (CDT)/ 9:00 (USA East).

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"We would like to see the end of this conflict with the UCI but I don't see the UCI making any progress," said FFC president Jean Pitallier. "We will soon designate the commissaires for the Tour de France. Those who have done Paris-Nice will have the priority." Experienced French judges Michel Lefort and Joël Ménard are among the most likely to be named as chief commissaire.

France wants to contribute 700,000 euro towards biological passport

French secretary of sports Bernard Laporte
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The French secretary of sports Bernard Laporte was also present to support both the organisers of the Tour de France and the FFC. Laporte took office at the end of October 2007 after coaching the French team at the Rugby World Cup and his first duty as a politician was to take part in the summit which gave birth to the biological passport. At the time, the French government, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the UCI appeared united in the fight against doping, but that unity has since fallen apart.

"The UCI has refused a contribution of 700,000 euro from the French Ministry of Sports and ASO," Laporte revealed. "We are disappointed to not participate in the biological passport anymore. We hope the project keeps improving and we'd like to take part in it with our 700,000 euro again later.

"We want to work with the UCI again for the interest of the sport, that's all that counts for us. I've noticed once again, on a recent trip to China, that the Tour de France has a worldwide impact and we have to all work together to keep people's interest high in the race and the sport of cycling in general."

Laporte said he was prepared to offer his services as a mediator between the UCI and ASO once again. "I guess we'll renew the contact after the Tour de France," he predicted. "Cycling deserves better than this unfortunate tussle."

To read the complete feature, click here.

UCI 'deplores' ASO decision

The UCI issued a statement Tuesday evening in which it described the French cycling federation's (FFC) decision to support Tour de France organisers ASO as "deeply regrettable". The international governing body also attacked the manner in which ASO announced its decision to place the Tour outside of the UCI's international calendar, since ASO apparently did not officially notify the UCI prior to the Paris press conference.

"The UCI deplores the decision taken by the executives of ASO and the FFC," read a statement from the UCI. "It considers it entirely inappropriate that ASO, with the support of the FFC, should have chosen to announce this by press conference, without having informed the International Cycling Union beforehand."

In direct contrast to the statement from Bernard Laporte, in which the French secretary of sports said that the UCI had refused money from ASO towards the biological passport program, the UCI insisted that ASO had itself refused to contribute financially towards the new anti-doping measures.

"This provides further evidence of ASO's wish to disregard the UCI's authority in international cycling, following its leaders' refusal either to pay the fees for registering its events on the calendar, or to contribute to the biological passport, as cycling's other major stakeholders have done," added the UCI statement.

As was the case with Paris-Nice, the UCI maintains that riders and teams will risk sanctions if they participate in the Tour de France. However, the specific nature of such measures remains to be seen.

Finally, the UCI attacked the exclusion of the Astana team and its leader, defending Tour champion Alberto Contador. "ASO has demonstrated by these actions that it intends to follow its own rules, within a structure it has itself created. This year, it will deny the winner of last year's Tour de France the opportunity to defend his title. The UCI believes it is absolutely vital to fight against such aberrations."

Moletta remains 'inactive'

Gerolsteiner rider Andrea Moletta remains on "inactive" status and will not participate in the Dauphiné Libéré as originally planned. Team manager Hans-Michael Holczer told the German press agency dpa that he will not ride until it is established what was in a syringe that the police found in the possession of his father. Holczer is in contact with the Guardia Finanza (an Italian law enforcement agency responsible for drug trafficking), which is handling the investigation.

His father, Natolino, was on his way to the Giro d'Italia on May 20 with two others when their vehicle was stopped and searched. A one-way syringe was find hidden in a toothpaste package in a cooler in the car. Moletta senior said that it was a painkilling medication for his own use.

A house search at the Moletta's uncovered nothing, but the search of the car driver's house turned up 82 packages of Viagra. The team subsequently removed the younger Moletta from the Giro after learning of the incident and placed him on "inactive" status, based on the team's Code of Conduct. (SW)

Vandenbroucke 2002 case to be re-heard

Frank Vandenbroucke (Mitsubishi-Jartazi)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

The never-ending story of Frank Vandenbroucke's legal troubles has added yet another chapter, as a Belgian court has ruled that a doping case stemming from a search of his house in 2002 must be re-opened, according to Sporza.

The story started with a house search in 2002, when Belgian authorities found banned products including EPO, Clenbuterol, growth hormones, morphine, and amphetamines. He was suspended for six months, but only for races in Flanders. The Belgian Court of Appeal dismissed the charges, saying there were procedural failures. A civil case proceeded and wound its slow way through the courts.

This past March, some six years later, the Belgian Court of Appeal dismissed the case, saying he had already served a sporting suspension and any further punishment would be double jeopardy. However, this decision was appealed to the Hof van Cassatie, the highest court in the land, which deals only with points of law and not with the facts of the case. That court ruled on Tuesday that the Court of Appeal in Antwerp must now re-hear the case.

Vandenbroucke and his attorneys did not have any comment on the latest development. He was recently placed on inactive status by his current team, Mitsubishi-Jartazi, after being named in a cocaine investigation, but was scheduled to start riding again this month. (SW)

Julian Sanz interview: Long distance exhalation

Sanz uses the weekends for long rides
Photo ©: Julian Sanz
(Click for larger image)

Spain's Julian Sanz is not in any Pro Tour team. Neither in a continental team. He is an ultra cycling rider. One of the few brave men who will dare to ride the unbelievably tough Race Across America. Cyclingnews' Hernan Alvarez took a closer look at the preparation of Sanz, who will hope to be one of those surviving the long race from Lake Henshaw, California, to Annapolis, Maryland, starting on USA's West Coast on June 8 and ending on the East Coast nine to 12 days later.

The Race Across America is fast approaching. In less than one week's time, Sanz will have to be ready for one of the biggest challenges in ultra distance cycling. His training is based on past experience with the Le Tour Ultime, a 4,000-kilometre race in France. Sanz has won the event, which is considered the world championship for long distance riders.

"The preparation [for RAAM] is very similar to the one I did for le Tour [Ultime] in 2006. I work with intensity. When I prepared le Tour 2007 it was based on volume, much volume. And the feeling I had was not as good as in 2006. That's why we work with more intensity and decreased the training volume a bit," explained Sanz. The intensity is needed as the average speeds aren't particularly slow. "The first three days at le Tour I averaged 30 km/h, for the first 1,000 kilometres. Later on, the average goes down. One can average 25, 26 kilometres per hour," the Spaniard revealed.

Sanz trains an average of 700 kilometres per week for these special events. "What I normally do is to concentrate 70 percent of the training week on Saturdays and Sundays," he said. "On weekdays, I do more intensive training sessions and on weekends I focus on volume. That is to say, I ride 14 to 20 hours. That's how I distribute the whole training."

The Spanish cyclist prefers the ultra long competitions. Asked why, he replied: "Because the gap to improve is much bigger [than in other disciplines]. When I did triathlon or athletic races, I trained and my limit was right there. It is a purely physical limit. Your stride is what it is; your pace is what it is and to better one minute is very complicated. However, improvement has many factors at long distance races. It is exciting to learn your limit."

To read the complete interview, click here.

Nature Valley GP fills women's field

Action from the 2007 Nature Valley GP
Photo ©: Kurt Jambretz
(Click for larger image)

The women's field at Minnesota's Nature Valley Grand Prix has filled its 145 available entries and closed registration early, the first time since the race began in 1999. The event, part of the Great River Energy Bicycle Festival, is likely to be one of the largest women's races of the year, compared with fields of 140 for the Montreal World Cup and 120 for the Liberty Classic.

While the women's field has grown dramatically since 1999, the race's breakthrough year came in 2003 when the Hewlett Packard International Women's Challenge, which was scheduled for the same dates, was discontinued and teams attended Nature Valley instead. Originally the race was open to Category 4 riders, but due to its popularity is now limited to professionals and Category 1 and 2 amateurs.

Race director David LaPorte said the race's growth was testament to its continued support of women's racing. "We host the Rasmussen College Women's Cycling Summit annually and then give the women's race prime time slots all week," said LaPorte. "We're the organizers of the Women's Prestige Cycling Series, have women-only programs like the Ryan Collegiate All-Stars and our media relations efforts put equal emphasis on the women's race. We're living proof that the women will support the races that support them."

The Nature Valley Grand Prix is the signature event of the Great River Energy Bicycle Festival. The race kicks off on Wednesday, June 11, with the Downtown Saint Paul Criterium before visiting Cannon Falls, Minneapolis and Mankato, then finishing with the legendary Stillwater Criterium on Sunday, June 15.

For more information, visit

Sutherland, Goldstein top NRC standings

Australian Rory Sutherland (Health Net/Maxxis) continues to hold a commanding leading in the men's NRC individual standings with 12 events on the North American calendar now complete. After 15 women's events, Leah Goldstein (Valueact Capitol) has a narrow lead in the individual standings over fellow Canadian Felicia Gomez. Sutherland's Health Net team are also leading the men's team standings while the Cheerwine team has close to an 800-point lead in the women's team competition.

Men's individual standings
1 Rory Sutherland (Aus) Health Net Presented By Maxxis                     976 pts
2 Ted King (USA) Bissell Pro Cycling                                       407
3 Darren Lill (RSA) BMC Racing Team                                        350
4 Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA) Bissell Pro Cycling                             338
5 Sebastian Haedo (Arg) Colavita-Sutter Home                               321

Men's team standings
1 Health Net Pro Cycling Team presented by Maxxis                         1806 pts
2 Colavita/Sutter Home Men's Cycling Team presented by Cooking Light      1361
3 Bissell Pro Cycling Team                                                1214
4 Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team                                          1122
5 presented by Parkpre                                840

Women's individual standings
1 Leah Goldstein (Can) Valueact Capitol                                    596 pts
2 Felicia Gomez (Can) Aaron's                                              576
3 Tina Pic (USA) Colavita-Sutter Home                                      568
4 Mara Abbott (USA) High Road                                              550
5 Julie Beveridge (Can) Aaron's                                            547
Women's team standings
1 Cheerwine Professional Cycling Team                                     2411 pts
2 Aaron's Cycling Team                                                    1623
3 Colavita/Sutter Home Women's Cycling Team presented by Cooking Light    1482
4 Team Tibco                                                              1133
5 Valuact Capitol Cycling Team                                             900

Tour de France to be broadcast in the Philippines

The 2008 Tour de France will be broadcasted in more than 180 countries by 92 different TV channels, Christian Prudhomme announced on Tuesday. The latest country added to the list is the Philippines after Azerbaidjan broadcast the race last year. The 2007 Tour de France was also the first to offer live commentary in the Arabic language.

Your chance to win in the Cyclingnews-Rapha competition - competition extended!

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

This is your chance to win a full outfit of team kit plus the official team bike as raced by Dean Downing, the joint leader of the British Rapha-Condor-Recycling racing team. The bike, valued at over US$5600, is the Team Leggero. This is a bespoke carbon frame and is the official 2008 Rapha Condor Recycling Team bicycle.

Featuring hand-cut tubes, rear-ends and carbon lugs, the frame is hand-made to Condor's unique specifications and is built up with tubing from the highly respected Italian company Dedacciai, one of only a handful of companies in the world capable of producing such quality tube-sets and forks. It also features a full Dura-Ace groupset (including Dura-Ace wheels) and components from Deda Elementi, Fizik and Continental.

But wait! There's more. Yes, a full set of of Rapha's high-end cycling clothing is also included, featuring a pair of bib-knicks, a short-sleeve jersey, a jacket and cap. Make sure you enter to go into the draw as the competition has been extended with entries open until June 6, 2008.

Our thanks to our friends at Rapha for providing such awesome prizes. Good luck!

(Additional research and assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer).

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