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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, March 27, 2008

Edited by Sue George

Phinney sets unofficial 3km junior world track record

Phinney racked up enough points to qualify
Photo ©: John Pierce
(Click for larger image)

Taylor Phinney's performance at the UCI Track World Championship in Manchester, England, stood out on Wednesday. The 17 year-old junior not only finished eighth among his more senior challengers, but also may have broken the three kilometer junior world record while racing the individual pursuit.

Phinney found some extra energy to pull ahead of Spain's Sergi Escobar, a double world champion, during their ride. Escobar had been leading Phinney until the final half kilometer. Phinney's unofficial world 3km record was recorded as 3:17.523, faster than the current record of 3:17.77.

His final 4km time was 4:22.358, approximately two seconds faster than his previous personal best time of 4:24.364.

The UCI will have to decide whether to grant Phinney the record as it was set during a 4km pursuit. Normally, a record must be set when a rider is competing during the specified distance; however, Chris Hoy was previously awarded the 500m record he set when contesting the kilometer. Another requirement Phinney will have to meet to earn the record is a passed doping test. Normally his eighth place finish wouldn't put him into the automatic controls, and he was not chosen as a random control. Phinney requested that he be subjected to a doping control at his team's cost so he could have a chance at being awarded the record.

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"I rode the first lap a little too slow," said Phinney of his 16-lap effort. "I just couldn't quite get on top of the gear. Then I didn't want to go too fast and take everything out of me trying to make up for it. I usually finish fast, so I think if I could have gotten on top of the gear a little sooner I would have been a little faster. At this stage, every pursuit is a learning experience for me. I just have to get everything dialled in for the Olympics."

Even if the young rider is not officially awarded the record, he can instead focus on celebrating the news that he has qualified for the Olympic Games in Beijing, China. According to his mother, herself a former Olympic gold medalist, Taylor has accumulated enough points to qualify for the Games.

Brailsford, Wiggins back Hayles after exclusion from Worlds

By Shane Stokes in Manchester

Pim Lighthart and Wim Stroetinga
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Two days after a lengthy article highlighting the anti-doping push within British Cycling appeared in The Times newspaper, performance director Dave Brailsford found himself in the unenviable position of defending one of his riders after Rob Hayles was excluded from the world championships.

Early in the day it was announced that Hayles and Dutchman Pim Ligthart had both returned blood values above the permitted levels, with Hayles reportedly clocking in with a hematocrit of 50.3%. Ligthart’s reticulocyte reading was outside the expected range. As per UCI rules, both were immediately suspended for two weeks and will undergo further testing to determine the reason for their readings.

British Cycling issued a press release soon afterwards giving its reaction. Quoted there, Brailsford said "this morning's screening has shown an anomaly that warrants further investigation and we are working with the UCI to resolve this matter. Meanwhile we continue to be focussed on delivering the best results during the World Track Championships."

He later spoke to a number of journalists and expanded upon this, stating that for now he trusted that Hayles had not done anything wrong.

"I am astonished, I am disappointed for Rob and frustrated for the team. But at the end of the day, I think the truth will prevail as always, so I welcome that," he stated. "I think the screening system is a great thing. I think that we should be subject to it. I think that other nations should be subject to it.

"It is not the first time that this has happened to several riders, and you tend to find that their subsequent tests which are then verified by the UCI come back and say 'okay, everything is fine.' As far as I am concerned, I have known Rob a long time and there has never been any doubt in my mind that he is anything but a fantastic athlete."

Asked straight out by a journalist if Hayles takes drugs, Brailsford answered, "No."

Once he heard the news, he said that he approached the rider to ascertain what happened. "I spoke to Rob," he told Cyclingnews. "I looked him in the eyes and asked him straight up. He is absolutely devastated, he is in bits, as you would expect. But there is a process to go through and I have confidence in that process. I am sure in a few days time we will all be sitting there saying, 'okay, this has been resolved.'

Brailsford told the AFP that Hayles has always had "relatively high" natural hematocrit levels and he sympathized with Hayles' situation. "It's harsh, when you have to phone home and tell the missus what's happened – that's a hard phone call to make."

"Whilst it is not anything that we would wish to have happen, the systems are there to make sure that everything is kept above board. I am 100% behind it," said Brailsford to Cyclingnews.

Team-mate Bradley Wiggins also backed Hayles, expressing surprise. "It is a huge shock to everyone," he told journalists after he won the individual pursuit late on Wednesday. "We found out earlier. It's a shock to him most of all, he is absolutely gutted. Unfortunately under these circumstances people just assume the worst-case scenario…it is one of those things.

"Rob is one of the longest-serving riders on this programme and one of the cleanest guys around. It is just a huge shame that it happens to someone like him. But he has a great family around him and I am sure he will be back."

Brailsford stated that British Cycling has a long series of hematological tests on its riders and that there was nothing to ever suggest that something was amiss. Until the results of follow-up tests are known, however, there will be a question mark over Hayles and a degree of extra pressure on the team.

"We will get on with the racing," Brailsford stated, playing down any suggestions that this will distract the riders from the task at hand. "I think this is an issue for Rob, this is an issue for me to deal with and this is an issue for the back room to deal with. But in terms of racing, this won't have any effect whatsoever on the team."

Clerc comments on Astana's exclusion and Vuelta ownership

Patrice Clerc
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Defending Tour de France champion Alberto Contador will not only have to sit out his favorite French race in July, but will in fact miss all races organized by the Amaury Sports Organisation for 2008.

The Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) recently announced the teams for the upcoming Spring Classics Paris-Roubaix, La Flèche Wallonne and Liège -Bastogne-Liège, and as expected the list did not include Astana.

ASO's Patrice Clerc told the Associated Press that his organization will not change its mind on the decision to exclude Contador's Astana team from the Tour de France this summer, but that Astana would be permitted to return to its races in 2009 if the team is not plagued by doping scandals during 2008.

Meanwhile, Clerc also indicated that discussions were still ongoing with regard to ASO becoming partial owners of the Vuelta a España.

"There is a hypothetical possibility of a minority participation, of between one to 49 percent, in the capital of Unipublic," said Patrice Clerc of the Amaury Sports Organisation to the AFP. Unipublic organizes the Vuelta a España. There is no word on whether partial ownership would come with the opportunity to influence which teams are invited to the Spanish Grand Tour.

Kemps feels at home

By Bjorn Haake in Roeselare

Aaron Kemps (Astana) finally back to racing
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

Astana's Aaron Kemps is Australian and could be forgiven for feeling miserable in Belgium's spring weather. Kemps told Cyclingnews, "It's a bit different," but added "I am used to it by now. I have been doing the Belgian races for a couple of years already."

Kemps doesn't spend too much time in Australia. He lives in San Sebastian, Spain, during the season. "We get some bad weather there sometimes, but it's nice in the summer, and I like it there."

In fact, Kemps was positively surprised to see the weather clear up Wednesday morning before Dwars van Vlaanderen. "The weather turned out to be 100% better than I thought it was going to be. I expected snow and below zero [degree] temperatures. But it's not too bad and I hope it's a good race today." Kemps has had enough cancellations for the week. The Aussie "meant to do Rund um Köln," but instead had to settle "for some training."

Before the start of Dwars van Vlaanderen, he said, "I was really hoping we could race today." He was looking forward to getting in some good training miles.

If the race had been cancelled, he "would have stayed in a hotel in Belgium, and there'd be no training." Having just had the hotel experience in Cologne, he didn't want a repeat. Then, the team couldn't go out on the icy German roads and its riders were stuck getting a workout inside with "45 minutes on the ergometer." The training and race miles are important to Kemps who said, "Flanders and those races are coming up, so it's good to get some races in."

Talking about his team's non-invitation to the Tour de France, Kemps said it has strengthened the squad. "Everybody is trying to make the best out of it," Kemps said. "You can see that with the win of Tomas [Vaitkus] on Sunday, and also Contador's win [stage 1 - time trial Vuelta Castilla y León - ed.]"

"The team is motivated to win as much as possible," said Kemps, "to show everyone that we are one of the best teams in the world and that we should be there at these big races." Dwars didn't quite work out for Astana, though. He explained, "We have two guys here today, Serguei Ivanov and Vaitkus. I think Ivanov will give it a try and if he gets in a breakaway later in the race then hopefully it can work that way. Or, if it comes down to a bunch sprint we will be working for Tomas." His own job was to be a domestique. "I will work for the team, go with the early breaks and keep the team at the front." He mused that it would be cool to get in a break, but he knew it would not be easy.

Vaitkus ended up beating none other than Robbie McEwen in the bunch sprint. Unfortunately, it was only for 13th place, 44 seconds behind the winner. Kemps was one of the many who had to surrender to the rainy conditions, with only 86 riders finishing the race.

Roelandts gets serious

By Bjorn Haake in Roeselare

Young Jürgen Roelandts, a neo-pro with Silence-Lotto is having a good season so far. Roelandts lives near Belgium's capital of Brussels. He had been racing for the Belgian Davitamon - W-f-L - Jong Vlaanderen and its predecessors in the last few years, but in 2008, he made the leap from amateur to professional ranks and immediately secured a contract with a ProTour team.

Roelandts has had two top six finishes already this season in Qatar, and he then went on to finish sixth in the Volta ao Algarve. He came close to getting his first professional win in Portugal where he was beaten only by Robert Förster (Gerolsteiner). In Nokere Koerse, it was the experienced Quick Step rider Wouter Weylandt who got the better of him.

"Yeah, I am somewhat surprised. I had a good winter and I hope we can keep it that way," he said his form is to his satisfaction, but he indicated one primary reason why things are going better this year – he's been getting more rest. He told Cyclingnews, "Last year, I was in school still, so it was hard to rest. Rest is very important," he emphasised while also acknowledging that he is training more now, too.

The Silence-Lotto rider's good start to the season at the Volta ao Algarve came despite getting what he thought was "food poisoning," which he blamed on the meat in the hotel where the team was staying. "If I would have been in 16th place, I would have just quit, but I was in sixth," so he rode on to finish the last day, despite being unable to eat for the whole day. "It was a very hard last stage," he said, but his good standing gave him the extra motivation needed.

Despite his recent good results, Roelandts knows his job and the answer to a question about his personal goals did not differ from what he had said before Het Volk. "I don't know. I'll work for the team and hope somebody [from the team] wins." He did his job again Wednesday, attacking at one point during the race to soften up the competition and eventually finished in the peloton, in 43rd place at the 63rd Dwars door Vlaanderen in Belgium.

Sooner or later Roelandts will earn his first pro win. Time will tell how the young rider's career develops.

Terpstra doesn't give up at Dwars door Vlaanderen

Milram's young Niki Terpstra showed his tenacity Wednesday at the 63rd Dwars door Vlaanderen won by Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis), who escaped for a solo win with nine kilometers to go. The Frenchman gave his former fellow escapees, eventual runner-up Steven De Jongh (Quick Step) and third-placed Niki Eeckhout (Topsport Vlaanderen) no chance.

"Niki was really strong today, and surprised me in a positive way, especially in the finale," said Jochen Hahn, Milram's Directeur Sportif. "He was very active all day. I had never figured that at the end he would be able on his own to catch up with the leading chase group."

The 17 hellingen along the 200 kilometers from Roeselare to Waregem provided chances for many attacks out of the peloton. Only in the last 30 kilometers did anyone escape – including the three who would get away for good. Tom Boonen (Quick Step) and last weekend's Milano-Sanremo winner Fabian Cancellara (CSC) were among the original break riders who did not stay away.

Behind the lead trio, Terpstra led the followers or attacked alone, to cut down the leader's advantage. His efforts were at first unsuccessful, but he didn't quit, and with 10km to go, he reached the group behind Chavanel and his two companions. Terpstra attacked repeatedly on the final kilometers in an attempt to avoid the sprint, but he was always caught and ended up finishing 12th at 32 seconds behind Chavanel.

Quick Step crashes in Dwars door Vlaanderen

By Susan Westemeyer

Two Quick Step riders crashed in the Dwars door Vlaanderen on Wednesday. Gert Steegmans went down almost exactly halfway through the race and had to drop out.

"He has bruises on his thigh and back. He now has to wait and see how things develop for his participation in the coming races," Sport Director Wilfried Peeters told the belga press agency.

Former World Champion Tom Boonen also went down, when he went off the road on the Oude Kwaremont. He was able to continue though and finished 37th.

Team CSC's rough day in Castilla y León

Team CSC's Karsten Kroon may have won stage two of the Vuelta a Castilla y León, but the squad's luck took a turn for the worse on Wednesday during the 160km stage three from Valladolid to Villa del Libro de Urueña when the team lost three riders.

Sprinter Juan Jose Haedo had pain in his wrist after crashing during training on Friday, while Jason McCartney, who was sitting in fourth overall, abandoned with stomach problems and Iñigo Cuesta crashed and had to abandon halfway through the stage.

Andalucía-Cajasur's Francisco Ventoso fared much better as he captured the stage three win in a sprint. Overall leader Alberto Contador (Astana) stayed comfortably in the peloton throughout the stage and retained his lead.

Klöden sick again

By Susan Westemeyer

Andreas Klöden of Team Astana has not been performing up to standard in the Vuelta a Castilla y León, and it proved too much for him on Wednesday, as he dropped out. "He started the stage and even worked for the team," spokesman Philippe Maertens told Cyclingnews. "But he is really sick. Headache and flu ... sick again."

Klöden has been struggling with health problems all season. He came down with a fever at the teams training camp in February, and then missed the Vuelta a Mallorca after returning to Europe. He recently finished third overall in the Volta a Santarem.

Liquigas begins Northern Campaign

Liquigas announced its riders for its North Campaign. Beginning with the GP Waregem and running until the Paris-Roubaix, the team is drawing upon cyclo-cross specialist Enrico Franzoi, who be joined on March 29 by Filippo Pozzato. Pozzato will target Flanders and Paris-Roubaix though he'll also take part in Harelbeke, Brabantse and Gent-Wevelgem.

Mario Scirea will lead the Liquigas Team in Belgium. "The nine victories caught by the team during the beginning of the season are a good 'visit card' for the Franco-Belgian 'tour de force'. Flanders and Roubaix will be the most important appointments, where the team will work for Pippo, but we have the potentiality to make a good performance during all the competition."

Liquigas for GP Waregem: Maciej Bodnar, Alberto Curtolo, Mauro Da Dalto, Murilo Fischer, Enrico Franzoi, Aleksandr Kuschynski and Frederik Willems.

Liquigas for E3 Prijs Vlaanderen (Harelbeke): Maciej Bodnar, Alberto Curtolo, Mauro Da Dalto, Murilo Fischer, Enrico Franzoi, Aleksandr Kuschynski and Manuel Quinziato.

Liquigas for De Brabantse Pijl: Maciej Bodnar, Mauro Da Dalto, Murilo Fischer, Aleksandr Kuschynski, Manuel Quinziato, Filippo Pozzato and Frederik Willems.

Liquigas for KBC Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde: Maciej Bodnar, Francesco Chicchi, Claudio Corioni, Alberto Curtolo, Mauro Da Dalto, Enrico Franzoi, Manuel Quinziato and Frederik Willems.

Liquigas for Ronde van Vlaanderen: Claudio Corioni, Mauro Da Dalto, Murilo Fischer, Enrico Franzoi, Aleksandr Kuschynski, Filippo Pozzato, Manuel Quinziato and Frederik Willems.

Liquigas for Gent-Wevelgem: Francesco Chicchi, Claudio Corioni, Murilo Fischer, Enrico Franzoi, Aleksandr Kuschynski, Filippo Pozzato, Manuel Quinziato and Frederik Willems.

Liquigas for Paris-Roubaix: Maciej Bodnar, Francesco Chicchi, Murilo Fischer, Enrico Franzoi, Aleksandr Kuschynski, Filippo Pozzato, Manuel Quinziato and Frederik Willems.

Track worlds showing on WCSN

WCSN will be showing coverage of the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Manchester, England. The schedule is below:

  • March 27: Men's team pursuit, Women's individual pursuit, Women's team sprint, Men's sprint rounds & quarterfinals – showing at 9:00 pm US EDT
  • March 28: Men's points race, Men's sprint semifinals & final, Women's team pursuit, Women's sprint rounds & quarterfinals – showing March 30 at 8:30 am US EDT
  • March 29: Men's madison, Men's keirin, Women's points race, Women's sprint semifinals & final – showing March 29 at 9:00 am US EDT; and Men's omnium, Men's 1km time trial, Women's scratch race, Women's keirin Watch showing March 30 at 7:00 pm

For more information, visit www.wcsn.com.

31st Old Capitol Criterium to highlight Iowa race weekend

The Iowa City Cycling Club today will host the 31st Old Capitol Criterium and Iowa City Road Race on April 26-27 in Iowa City, Iowa. This year's event features a combined prize list of over US$10,000, making it one of the Midwest's largest race weekends.

"We're very excited to continue the tradition of the Old Capitol Criterium and to honor the memory of Chris Lillig," said Mark Guthart, Race Director of the Old Capitol Criterium. "Being able to see the entire weekend of racing continue to grow really says something about the longevity of the event."

The festivities will kick off Saturday, April 26 with the Iowa City Road Race. On Sunday, the action will move to the Old Capitol Criterium, with its one-kilometer loop in downtown Iowa City. The Chris Lillig Memorial Cup will honor the 12th anniversary of the death of Chris Lillig, a local bicycle racer who was struck and killed by a drunk driver while training.

For more information on the race, including a complete schedule and online registration, visit www.oldcapcrit.com.

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