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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News, May 9, 2008

Edited by Laura Weislo

Astana pulls together for Giro

By Shane Stokes in Palermo

Alberto Contador (Astana)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

The Astana team arrived in Palermo for the Giro d'Italia after a last minute scramble to assemble the team together for the first Grand Tour of the year, and while the team's preparation was not ideal, it is still heading into the race with high hopes.

Due to their last-minute invite, the Astana team has had very little time to physically and mentally prepare for the Giro d'Italia. The riders had originally been refused an invite for the Italian race plus the Tour de France, and so they set about targeting races that they might otherwise have used as preparation for the Grand Tours.

Team leaders Alberto Contador, Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Klöden have all been in winning form in 2008; the question is if they can prolong that condition and turn it into a general classification victory in three weeks' time.

Leipheimer spoke to Cyclingnews at the presentation of the teams, and said that he was cautiously optimistic that he could ride well. "My form is alright. I was third in Georgia, so it is not bad," he stated.

"I have always wanted to do the Giro. I think it is a great race and I have a lot of respect for it. For that reason, I would have liked to have had more time to prepare, but nonetheless I am very excited to be here."

On paper at least, he, Contador and Klöden are three of the strongest riders in the race. All have finished on the Tour de France podium, with the Spaniard winning last year's race. Their preparation was not ideal, but he's hoping that their class will show through.

"We have a very good team. We have our best riders here, so while I said it is short notice, I think it is possible that we could win the race."

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Directeur sportif Sean Yates was also hopeful of some good results. "We didn't have much notice," he said, echoing Leipheimer's sentiments. "It is not ideal. However we are a group of professionals and I expect some good results and performances."

The team will start with the three big guns on an equal level, then tactics and strategy will be modified to favour whoever is the strongest. "We will decide who leads as we go along," he stated. "It is a long race; it is a long way to Milan and it is a tough one, so we will see.

"Obviously this race was not on Alberto's plans at all. Klöden has just come off a good result so on paper perhaps he has the best chance. It is a long way, we will see."

Simoni prepared for last Grand Tour

By Shane Stokes in Palermo

Gilberto Simoni has won two Giri d'Italia and placed third, second, third and fourth in the last four editions of the race. He's now 36 years of age but was looking far younger than that at the teams presentation on Thursday evening in Palermo's Piazza Castelnuovo. More importantly, he and Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli manager Gianni Savio were talking up his chances for what is likely to be his final Grand Tour.

"I have prepared well for the Giro," he said. "I want to be protagonist like last year, and so hope to be going well this time."

"Gilberto's condition is good," stated Savio, "as is that of the other riders. We will try to win the race. Our objective is the maglia rosa, and I think that it is possible."

The team missed out on an invite in 2007, but Simoni's signing all but guaranteed their participation this season. "I am very happy to be back in the Giro," said Savio. "We were protagonists in 2005 with Jose Rujano and Ivan Parra.

"Last year we were not invited but in the years before that, I think we always honoured the race. So we have now a very competitive team with one leader, Gilberto Simoni. It is sure that we cannot have the same strategy as in the past; then, we had young riders and we attacked with them. Now, there are eight riders all riding for Gilberto Simoni."

He is happy with their line-up. "We have Alessandro Bertolini, the UCI Europe Tour champion of last year. We have the Colombian Jose Serpa and the Venezuelan José Ochoa. Also, we have the German sprinter Danilo Hondo, plus the Italians Raffaele Illiano, Daniele Nardello and Gabriele Missaglia. So it is a compact team, and one dedicated to Gilberto Simoni."

Following the race, Simoni will turn his attention to mountain bike competition. He knows that this is likely to be his final chance to take a third Giro; last year's Monte Zoncolan victor is very much aiming to go out on a high.

Caisse d'Epargne loses one

The arrival for the Caisse d'Epargne team did not go very well after four men of the team's Giro d'Italia squad were involved in a crash on Thursday. Few details were given about the wreck, which happened at the end of a training ride, but the team announced that David Arroyo fractured his left arm and will not take the start in Palermo on Saturday.

Vladimir Karpets, Francisco Pérez and Joaquím Rodríguez were also involved in the crash on Thursday morning, which occurred at a crossroad just ten kilometers from their hotel in Cinisi. Frenchman Mathieu Perget will replace Arroyo for the Giro d'Italia.

McEwen optimistic

By Shane Stokes in Palermo

Robbie McEwen has had a fine run of success in recent Giri d'Italia, taking three wins in both 2005 and 2006. However last year saw his tally drop somewhat, with the Australian having to be satisfied with just one win in the race and also the same in the Tour de France.

The Silence Lotto rider is now 35 years of age. Some will argue that time is catching up with him, but McEwen will head into the Giro convinced that he is sprinting as well as ever. His stage victory in the recent Tour de Romandie will certainly have helped his morale.

"I want to win a stage," he told Cyclingnews, when asked about his aims for the Giro. "Like always, when I come here I want to take at least one. And if I can do that, then I will try to win another one. The form is good."

Innocently guilty – the Petacchi case

By Susan Westemeyer

Alessandro Petacchi had finally made a comeback
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

If Alessandro Petacchi is asking the question, "why me?", it would not be surprising. The Milram sprinter drew a one-year sanction for taking too much of an asthma medication he was allowed to use, while other riders have escaped punishment for the same offense.

Alessandro Petacchi "is not a cheat," the Court of Arbitration for Sport stated this week after ruling that the Italian must serve a one-year suspension. It found that his positive doping test during the 2007 Giro d'Italia was "the result of Mr. Petacchi simply, and, possibly, accidentally, taking too much Salbutamol on the day of the test, but that the overdose was not taken with the intention of enhancing his performance." Nevertheless, even though he was allowed by the UCI to use the drug, he was responsible for taking too much and the CAS decided that this warranted a sanction.

The case parallels that of Leonardo Piepoli, who tested positive for the same drug on the same day, and had almost half again as much of the drug in his system but escaped sanction. The only difference is Piepoli holds a racing license from Monaco, while Petacchi's is from his native Italy. And while the Italian Cycling Federation was happy to let the star go with a warning, the Olympic Committee (CONI) was keen to pursue the matter until 'Ale-Jet' went down.

The story started on May 23, 2007, the 11th stage of the Giro d'Italia, 198 kilometres from Serravalle Scrivia to Pinerolo. It ended in the expected mass sprint, and Team Milram's Petacchi used his unbeatable speed to take his third win of the race and his 22nd career Giro stage win. It was a hot and humid day, and the asthmatic Petacchi was suffering from the weather.

To combat his exercise-induced asthma, the Italian had an Abbreviated Therapeutic Use Exemption (ATUE) from the UCI, which allowed him to take three doses of 200 mcg of Salbutamol by inhalation each day, and three doses of 0.5 mcg of Betamethasone by aerosol. His medical prescription was for a product called Ventolin, which contains Salbutamol, to be used three times a day. Each puff from the inhaler contains 100 mcg of Salbutamol, so he was allowed six puffs a day, to reach his total of 600 mcg.

On May 23, Petacchi told the CAS, he took two puffs from his inhaler before the race, two during the race and two or three after the race. Because he won the stage, he had to undergo a doping control. The resulting urine sample was tested at the WADA laboratory in Rome, and on May 26, the lab issued its finding that the sample contained 1352 ng/ml Salbutamol. The legal limit is 1000 ng/ml for athletes with a TUE.

At the UCI's request, the Rome lab sent the rest of the sample to the anti-doping lab in Barcelona, which conducted a further test to determine whether the Salbutamol had been ingested or inhaled. On June 21, the Barcelona lab issued its findings, saying the results "were not compatible with an inhaled therapeutic dose of salbutamol." The UCI informed the Italian cycling federation (FCI), which opened an investigation.

Continue to the full feature.

Agritubel gains two

Le Lay won the Tour du Finistere
Photo ©: Freddy Guérin
(Click for larger image)

After taking the a surprise win in the Trophée des Grimpeurs, French rider David Le Lay (Bretagne - Armor-Lux) has gotten the call-up to the big leagues. The 28-year-old will join the Agritubel squad for six months starting on June 30, and will race the Tour de France.

Le Lay has shown himself to be a bit of a late bloomer, winning this year's Tour du Finistère and taking the lead in the Coupe de France with his win this month. He is the son of Gilbert Le Lay, who wore the polka dot jersey while riding the Tour de France for Fiat in the 1970's, and is a strong climber.

Le Lay will join Romain Feillu, who will return to competition with the Agritubel squad after a long recuperation from toxoplasmosis. After a sensational 2007 season which included wins in the Tour of Britain, Paris-Bourges and Tour of Luxembourg, Feillu fell ill and was unable to start the season. He will have his first race of the year at the Tour de Picardie (16-18 May).

Steegmans lashes out at UCI

Gert Steegmans (Quick Step)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The UCI's declaration that 23 riders had shown abnormal values in the early testing of its biological passport program has raised the hackles of Quick Step sprinter Gert Steegmans. The winner of stage two of the Four Days of Dunkirk expressed his disgust at speculation by the Dutch media on Thursday that his fellow competitor in the North of France, Clement Lhotellerie, is one of the 23 riders under watch by the UCI.

Lhotellerie, 22, of the Dutch Skil-Shimano team had a break-out performance in Paris-Nice earlier this year, where he won the mountains classification, and is currently second place overall in Dunkirk after being a part of the first stage breakaway with his compatriot Stéphane Augé.

But the Frenchman's week was interrupted by the report, which quoted an anonymous team-mate saying Lhotellerie's "shady practices" were putting the team in jeopardy.

"It is a perfect example of how not to deal with such things," an annoyed Steegmans told Het Nieuwsblad, "Why was that announced in this way? Either you say the full names, or you shut up and go about your business. This is only good for making everyone suspicious. I am certainly not the only one in the peloton with this opinion."

Sydney road rage driver questioned

Kevin Nichols got the driver's tag number
Photo ©: Greg Johnson
(Click for larger image)

Police say a 34-year-old man was interviewed last night at a residence in Claymore in Sydney's southwest after a cycle crash near Sydney Airport yesterday morning injured dozens of Australia's cycling elite. Officers have also examined a Ford Falcon sedan at the premises. No arrests were made but officers are continuing their investigation into the incident.

Olympic contender Ben Kersten said he's still struggling to understand the actions of a motorist who braked suddenly in front of him and a group of around 50 cyclists this morning. The abrupt maneuver and the speed of the group sent more than half of the riders to the ground. Witnesses described the driver's action as intentional, and Kersten said his injuries could put his Olympic hopes to an end.

"I did hurt myself; I'm not broken or anything, but I am going to need a few days' recovery," Kersten told the Sydney Morning Herald. "I'm having trouble bending my arm, my hip's all flared up. I rolled my ankle so it's not something you just walk straight through, but a lot of other people looked a lot worse than me. It's just a disgrace, an absolute disgrace."

Kersten has not yet qualified for the Beijing Games, and the last remaining spot is to be decided at a trial later this month. The sprinter rued his misfortune at now having to build a new bike and recover from his minor injuries before the event, but knows things could have been much worse. "We're so lucky somebody isn't dead, we were pushing 60kmh, sprawled all over the road with trucks going past. I really don't know how someone isn't dead, that's all I can say."

The Beijing keirin hopeful said the incident demonstrated the escalating hostilities he and his fellow cyclists face in Sydney. "This is our training ground," said Kersten. "We can't ride round and round a football stadium at 60kmh. The law states we are allowed on the road. A brutal death match on the road is not going to solve anything," he said. "This whole incident really exemplified the escalating road rage towards cyclists happening on Sydney's roads."

Perhaps the most disturbing evidence to support this view is reports that other drivers yelled insults at the fallen cyclists as they drove past the scene of the accident. Kevin Nichols, the father of Kate Nichols, who survived a head-on collision in Germany which killed her AIS team-mate Amy Gillett in 2005, described the scene.

"A perfect example of the enmity were the jeers and taunts of several drivers (more than three separate drivers that I noticed) making their way past the aftermath of the accident, despite the fact that a police car and two ambulances were on the scene treating seriously injured people," he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Nichols, himself an Olympic gold medalist from the 1984 Games, also described the incident to ABC news, saying the driver had harassed the bunch from behind, and then passed the group very close and cut off the riders in the front. "Once he got in front he slowed down and I thought 'here we go' and took note of his registration number and called out to the bunch to 'watch out'.

"The bunch slowed a bit but as we got behind him, he slammed his brakes on and the front of the group went straight into the back of the car. The driver stopped. Obviously he stopped when he caused the accident. He then started to move forward.

"I called out to him to 'stop' for obvious reasons - police were going to have to come. He pulled over and stopped, then had second thoughts and then did the bolt."

Liquigas confirmed for Philly

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor

Just one day after the list of teams for the Commerce Bank Triple Crown was released, Cyclingnews learned that a new team was recently added to the list of competing men's teams - the ProTour Liquigas team - race spokesperson Stephanie Simon confirmed. This makes three ProTour teams for the race, along with Team CSC and High Road.

The inclusion of Liquigas is likely due in part to the team's bike sponsorship with the US company Cannondale whose manufacturing plant is in Bedford, Pennsylvania, about 200 miles (321km) from Philadelphia.

While the composition of the team is unknown, including if superstars such as Daniele Bennati will be coming over, the team has raced in Philly week multiple times in the past and has an extensive roster from which to choose a team.

Vos heads South

Marianne Vos (DSB Bank)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Dutch sensation Marianne Vos will head to El Salvador this month as part of her preparation for the Olympic Games in Beijing. Along with her DSB Bank team, the 20-year-old who has been World Champion in cyclo-cross, road and track will tackle the GP de Santa Ana on May 15, the Vuelta Ciclista Femenina a El Salvador from May 16-21, and the Vuelta a Occidente (23-25 May).

According to telesport, Vos' team manager Thijs Rondhuis, and national coach Johan Lammerts, the races were chosen because the hilly terrain and the humidity in the Central American country will closely match the conditions in Beijing next summer. While there, she can also take advantage of the velodrome in El Salvador to prepare for the Olympic Games points race.

Vos was scheduled to ride the Tour de San Marino, but the event's cancellation forced other plans to be made.

Lance Armstrong named TIME Magazine's Top 100

By Gary Boulanger,

Cancer survivor and seven times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong has been named in TIME Magazine's fifth annual Top 100 list, a prestigious group of the world's most influential people, in the Heroes and Pioneers category.

Armstrong's biography was written by cancer survivor Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former US presidential candidate John Edwards. He's listed with tennis star Andre Agassi and musician Peter Gabriel, among others, based on his efforts with the Livestrong Foundation, which has raised more than US$250 million for cancer research and awareness since 1997.

On May 8, Armstrong appeared before the US Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee for a hearing called Cancer: Challenges and Opportunities in the 21st Century. To read his prepared testimony, visit this link from the Livestrong blog. A fellow witness was Elizabeth Edwards.

Armstrong and his Livestrong Foundation staff are ramping up for the second Livestrong Summit, scheduled to take place July 24-27, 2008, at the Ohio State University campus in Columbus, Ohio. The first Summit took place October 27-29, 2006, in Austin, Texas.

Through an application process, the Foundation will identify 1,000 current and potential leaders who are willing to champion the cause in their communities.

New course to showcase sprinters in Triple Crown

The Commerce Bank Triple Crown of Cycling will kick off on June 3rd with the first new course in years - the Allentown "showdown", Lehigh Valley Classic. 25 teams will tackle the 12-lap, 85-mile course around Pennsylvania's third largest city. The details of the route were announced Thursday.

The course will begin its rectangular path from downtown Allentown, across the Lehigh River, and up the scenic and rolling Lehigh Parkway before returning downtown via West Hamilton Street. While by no means a climber's course, this 7.1-mile circuit will test riders with a steady stream of punchy, leg-sapping rollers. But barring the unforeseen, the endgame will likely belong to the sprinters.

"There are some hills to be sure, but I don't think it will be enough to completely break up the race," predicted Robin Zellner, the race's technical director. "If the right breakaway combination forms, then maybe something could stay away to the finish. But the course definitely favors the sprinters. The run in to the finish is dead straight for about two miles, so they'll have plenty of time to get in position."

The crux of the race will likely be the gradual rise that comes near the end of that long finishing run down West Hamilton Street. "If teams can get their sprinters to the top of that hill in one piece then it will be a drag race," added Zellner, former team director of the Kodak Gallery-Sierra Nevada cycling team. "But the last trip up that hill could definitely break things up a little. It will be all big chainring, but they won't be able to stay in the hardest gear the whole way. That could open it up to some of the crafty guys who don't rely on a big lead-out train to get them to the line."

Before the final fireworks, spectators will have ample viewing opportunities during the race that's expected to last about three hours. Look for lap times in the 20-25-minute range, making it possible for the savvy fan to catch the riders in numerous places along the course. One of the best bets will be right before the feedzone on Lehigh Parkway North, an area chock full of small climbs that will guarantee plenty of action.

US Collegiate Nationals start in Colorado

The USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships kick off in Fort Collins, Colorado on Friday when more than 500 student-athletes representing more than 60 colleges and universities from across the country will compete to win one of 18 cycling national titles.

Hosted by the 2008 Rocky Mountain Collegiate Cycling Conference Division I champions, Colorado State University, the USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships will see men and women from Division I and Division II institutions compete for individual championships in three categories - criterium, road race and individual omnium. The collegiate squads will also fight for team titles in both the team time trial event and the prestigious overall (omnium) classification, which combines results from all races, both male and female.

Competition begins Friday, May 9 with the team time trial event at 8:00 a.m. starting and finishing at the intersection of I-25 and Owl Canyon Road. On Saturday, schools will compete in the road race competition which will start and finish at Colorado State University's Hughes Stadium. Sunday morning will feature criterium racing in Old Town Fort Collins.

In addition to a national championship, the women's competition in Fort Collins will also serve as a qualifier for the Ryan Collegiate All Stars - a female composite team of eight different student-athletes from eight different schools who finish among the top of the final omnium standings. These select athletes will earn an invitation to the Nature Valley Grand Prix, one of the highest-ranked stage races on USA Cycling's National Racing Calendar held in and around Minneapolis, Minn., June 11-15.

The final individual omnium standings at the USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships will determine the all-star squad that will compete alongside some of the nation's top pro women. In addition to an invitation to Minnesota, the team will receive housing, a travel stipend, clothing and the direction of a team manager throughout the week. For more information and complete qualification procedures, visit

For more information on the event visit USA Cycling's National Championships page at

Welsh track championships call for competitors

The Welsh Track Racing Calendar will hit its peak with the Open Championships on May 23. The closing date for late entries has been moved to Friday May 17th, the organisation announced Thursday.

Welsh titles will be up for grabs in an extensive racing programme for senior, junior and under-16 men & women, with the under-12 and 14 age groups racing an omnium.

The three day spectacular begins Friday May 23rd going through to Sunday 25th. Race Programme Friday 23rd May: 7pm – 9pm Scratch Race – Senior & Junior Pursuit Heats – Senior & Junior Sprint Heats – Senior & Junior

Saturday 24th May: 9am onwards Omnium – U 12, U14, U16 (sprint, scratch, pursuit) Pursuit Finals – Senior & Junior Sprint Finals – Senior & Junior

Sunday 25th May 9am onwards Team Sprint Team Pursuit Points Race Kilo

For more information contact Welsh Cycling on 01633 670 540 or

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