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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, June 6, 2008

Edited by Ben Abrahams

ASO buys 49 percent stake in Vuelta

Grand Tour bosses Christian Prudhomme of ASO and Victor Cordero of Unipublic
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The organiser of the Tour de France, Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), announced Thursday that it had acquired a 49 percent stake in Unipublic, the company which owns the Vuelta a España. The remaining 51 percent will be retained by Spanish media company Grupo Antena 3 television.

In a statement released by Unipublic, the Vuelta organiser said it had been having trouble establishing its race on the international calendar, but with the help of ASO would be able to increase visibility of the Spanish Grand Tour, held during three weeks of September.

"ASO and Unipublic will work together, starting today, with the goal of accelerating development and the presence of the Vuelta on an international level and to contribute to the strengthening of cycling," read the statement. "Through this agreement, Unipublic will benefit from the ample experience that ASO has in the management of major cycling events."

Coming up on

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).

WAP-enabled mobile devices: http://live.cyclingnews.com/wap/

The deal was first rumoured in February and is not likely to please the UCI, whose president Pat McQuaid recently told Cyclingnews that he believed ASO had plans to create a "rival international federation."

ASO is a subsidiary of French media group Amaury, which owns newspapers Le Parisien and L'Equipe. Besides the Tour de France, ASO controls, among others, the Paris-Nice and Paris-Roubaix races as well as the Dakar Rally.

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

Hamilton racing with break again

By Laura Weislo in Reading, Pennsylvania

Tyler Hamilton (Rock Racing)
Photo ©: Kurt Jambretz
(Click for larger image)

Rock Racing's Tyler Hamilton is familiar with riding through broken bones. The American who finished the 2003 Tour de France with a broken collarbone and won a stage in the process is once again suffering through injury to help his team. In Reading, it paid off as team-mate Oscar Sevilla powered away from the field to take the win in the second round of the Commerce Bank Triple Crown.

"It was a good day – it was a hard course, especially the three last laps," Hamilton told Cyclingnews. "Our leaders for today were Sevilla and Fred Rodriguez – if it came down to a sprint we had Fred, but we planned to be aggressive with Oscar and to protect him as much as possible.

"Oscar went away a lot earlier than we had planned – he sensed there was a good opportunity and he went for it. Obviously, at the end of the day it paid off."

But Hamilton, who fractured his wrist in the fifth stage of Tour of Colombia, had to once more endure the pain of riding through a broken bone in order to help his team. "I rode through ten days in Tour of Colombia, and it made it worse," Hamilton explained. "I took a week off, where I had it in a cast. I tried to milk the form from Colombia, but it's pretty hard."

The course in Reading, with its many turns and power hills made riding through the injury more difficult. "The more technical the course, the harder it is. I'm used to it. I just want to be a good team-mate. I know I'm not at my best with this injury, but I think I can still contribute to the team, and that's why I'm here."

Hamilton, who came back to racing after serving a two-year suspension for blood doping and the painfully public and drawn-out arbitration that preceded it, has been enjoying his time riding for the U.S. team with the outlaw image.

"It's been a blast riding for Rock Racing this year – it's been a lot of fun. We had a good ride down in Tour of Colombia. It was great for my fitness, and we won three stages." After Santiago Botero took the prologue with team-mates Victor Hugo Peña, Sevilla and Hamilton in second through fourth, the team racked up two more stages with Peña and Sevilla, and taking home the combination classification with Sevilla, giving the team its best performance to date.

"It was fun – it was a different race, I'd never done it before. I have a lot of respect for the South American riders," Hamilton said of the Colombian race. Now that the squad has won in Reading, the momentum seems to be building toward more success. But for the 37 year-old Hamilton, the wins haven't yet come. At this point, the future of his career as a bike racer is being considered on a one year at a time basis.

"I'm enjoying myself, having fun. We have a lot of young guys on the team, and I'm enjoying being a mentor for them. We're going to do the Tour of Qinghai – that will be my next race," Hamilton said, but added that he will contest Sunday's Triple Crown finale in Philadelphia first. Then, he said, "I'll let my hand heal and hopefully I'll be better by then."

Cunego to reconnoitre Tour stage to Italy

Damiano Cunego will check out Stage 15 of the Tour
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Lampre leader Damiano Cunego plans to ride the final part of Stage 15 of the Tour de France next Tuesday, the 183-kilometre leg from Digne-les-Bains to the Prato Nevoso ski station in Italy. The Italian will start out from Chiusa di Pesio and ride the final 35 kilometres over the Colle del Morte (Cat. 3) before the ascent to Prato Nevoso at 1440 metres above sea level.

He will be accompanied by Lampre team-mate Marco Marzano, while directeur sportif Maurizio Piovani and Italian Tour representative Lorenzo Tealdi will follow in the car. "Given the geographical proximity, it seemed appropriate and useful to see the ascent of Prato Nevoso," said Piovani. "Here in Italy we expect many supporters and want to be prepared for this stage. It would be nice to get a major result here."

This year's Tour will spend a total of three days over the border in Italy, its only foray outside France. After Stage 15 the riders will spend a rest day in Cuneo before departing for Jauziers, back over the border, the following day.

After a successful Spring Classics campaign which saw him victorious at the Amstel Gold Race in The Netherlands, Cunego elected to miss the Giro d'Italia and focus on the Tour de France. He is expected to ride the Tour de Suisse from June 14-22 as his final preparation race before the Tour start in Brittany on July 5.

It will be the second Tour de France for Cunego, whose only previous encounter with the race was in 2006 when he finished 11th overall and claimed the white jersey of best young rider. With the absence of defending champion Alberto Contador and the reduced number of time trialling kilometres this year, Cunego will be one of several favourites for overall victory.

Sastre faces final test before the Tour

Carlos Sastre has had a quiet year so far, but the Team CSC leader will face his most important test of the season when he lines up at the Dauphiné Libéré this Sunday, June 18. The Spaniard's last race was the Volta a Catalunya where he finished 43rd overall, more than nine minutes down on winner Gustavo Cesar Veloso (Karpin Galicia).

"It's time to learn the important things," said Sastre. "My mentality in this race will be very different from the other races so far this season. The Dauphiné is the most demanding test that I will compete in before the Tour. Until now, I have taken the season relatively easily, but after the Volta a Catalunya I stepped up my training and now, in the Dauphiné, it is time to draw conclusions."

While none of the Dauphiné route passes over the same roads as the Tour de France, Sastre believes it will be useful to gauge the form of his rivals. "Most important are the time trial on the third stage and the final three stages which pass through the Alps," he said.

According to Sastre's website, of the seven riders that will accompany Sastre to the start in Avignon, only Iñigo Cuesta will be part of Team CSC's Tour de France lineup. The rest of the team is composed of Lars Bak, Alexandr Kolobnev, Karsten Kroon, Marcus Ljungqvist, Chris Anker Sørensen and Nicki Sørensen. Team CSC has not yet announced any Tour de France participants.

Rasmussen and Rabobank meet in court

Michael Rasmussen in court
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Michael Rasmussen came face to face with his former employer on Thursday, when the Danish cyclist was in court seeking damages of 5.5 million euro for his dismissal from Rabobank last July. The two-hour hearing took place in a district court in Utrecht, The Netherlands, where lawyers representing each side contested the legitimacy of Rasmussen's sacking from the Dutch ProTour team.

Rasmussen's lawyer, Andre Brantjes, insisted that Rabobank was fully aware of the Dane's whereabouts in June, when he provided false information to the International Cycling Union (UCI) regarding his location in the days leading up to the Tour de France. Brantjes said that while there was no doubt his client had lied, team managers Theo de Rooy and Erik Breukink knew he was training in Italy and not in Mexico.

"My client still has no idea why he was dismissed," said Brantjes according to ANP.

Rabobank lawyer Harro Knijff countered that this was nonsense and said that Rabobank did not know where Rasmussen was during the month of June. "The reason for the dismissal is very clear, it was because he provided incorrect information to the team," said Knijff.

After all the text messages, e-mails and phone calls between Rasmussen, De Rooy and Breukink were heard by the court, very little new information was available. A decision is expected by July 2, three days before the start of the Tour de France. However, the 34 year-old Rasmussen would then have the right to appeal and the judge may also decide that more evidence is needed, which would prolong the case further.

Outside the court, Rasmussen and his lawyer declined to comment, but Rabobank representative Henri van der Aat, who took over as temporary general director after De Rooy's resignation told ANP: "Rasmussen has lied so much and he just goes on. Everything that was said today was already known. It is just a repetition."

Asked whether it might be better for Rabobank to settle the case, rather than incur the negative publicity, Van der Aat said: "Settle? That would never do. In our view he was rightly dismissed. Of course I would prefer that this case was over, but we will not settle a case when we have the law on our side. We have confidence in the ruling of the court."

Silence-Lotto confirms Gilbert signing

Philippe Gilbert meets Silence-Lotto team manager Marc Sergeant
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Belgian squad Silence-Lotto confirmed the transfer of Philippe Gilbert to its ranks for the 2009 season at a press conference Thursday. Gilbert met with team manager Marc Sergeant and signed an "agreement of intent," although he cannot officially be declared a Silence-Lotto rider until next year.

The Belgian rider had been courting offers from various ProTour teams, but told Sporza, "I did not choose the highest offer. Six ProTour teams wanted me. I studied thoroughly all of the offers.

"On Tuesday evening, there was 90 percent chance that I would sign for Silence-Lotto and a 10 percent chance that I remained at Française des Jeux. I had to make a decision which I explained to [Française des Jeux manager] Marc Madiot in a difficult moment. Until December 31, I am 100 percent for FdJ and Madiot."

Added Sergeant, "We definitely wanted him. He is one of the best riders in the world, a Belgian and great for publicity. He was always in our sights."

Gilbert is likely to focus on Milano-Sanremo and Liège-Bastogne-Liège next season. He will then ride the Giro d'Italia and is likely to skip the 2009 Tour de France.

Kelly Benefit Strategies goes greener

The Kelly Benefits team will be looking
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

U.S. Continental squad Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast will race in jerseys manufactured red from a new kind of fabric designed to lessen the team's impact on the environment. The new jersey, produced by Wisconsin based company Mt. Borah Custom is hand-made from a knit fabric consisting of 47 percent recycled fibres from post consumer and post-industrial waste.

As opposed to other green fabric alternatives derived from materials such as bamboo and coconut that can use toxic chemicals in overseas production processes, the post-consumer recycled jersey is manufactured in a clean process that, Mt. Borah estimates saves two gallons of gasoline in machine production for every 12 jerseys made.

"We're always looking for ways to be greener," said team performance director Jonas Carney. "We schedule our season logistics to reduce air and road travel as much as possible and try to eat local produce in each market. When we heard about the new recycled jersey fabric, it just made instant sense to us. We're eager to see how they perform when they make their debut in Philly Week."

The team is currently putting the new jersey through its paces at the Commerce Bank Triple crown series and will travel from there to the Nature Valley GP in Minnesota.

"We spent a lot of time researching fabrics which were being marketed as green," says Chris Jackson of Mt. Borah Custom. "But, in the end, our focus was on recycled fabrics rather than some of the alternatives out there based on natural materials. Those can use a lot of energy or chemicals during the fabric manufacturing process. We're thrilled with the end result and look forward to hopefully seeing our jerseys on a race podium soon."

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!

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