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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

Latest Cycling News, November 4, 2008

Edited by Gregor Brown

Contador joins Armstrong in wind tunnel testing

Alberto Contador during the Giro d'Italia in May
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Alberto Contador flew to the USA yesterday for aerodynamic wind tunnel testing in San Diego, California. The winner of this year's Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España will accompany new teammate Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer today at the San Diego Air and Space Technology Low Speed Wind Tunnel.

Contador will use the facilities to work on a new time trial helmet. "We will work with my sponsors, Trek and Giro, for the next season. I am going with a lot of motivation, because the races are won by very little time [difference] and with the time trial I still have a good margin for improvement," he said in a press statement.

It will be the first meeting between Armstrong and Contador since the former announced his comeback to the sport in September. The two will both race in Johan Bruyneel's Team Astana.

Contador is targeting the Tour de France to add to his 2007 victory. Armstrong, who will debut with the Tour Down Under, will race the Giro d'Italia for the first time in his career. He has not yet decided if he will return to race the Tour.

Armstrong won the Tour de France from 1999 to 2005, before retiring after his last win. He completed in his first time trial since retiring this weekend at the Tour de Gruene.

Bobby Julich moves up at Saxo Bank

USA's Bobby Julich becomes Rider Development Manager
Photo ©: Isabelle Duchesne
(Click for larger image)

USA's Bobby Julich will continue with Team Saxo Bank as Rider Development Manager, the team announced today. The 36 year-old retired from cycling this September.

"I knew that my urge to compete at the ProTour level as a rider was over in the middle of the season, but I also realised that I have much more to offer this great team and the sport of cycling. I will be trying to accomplish this objective from the other side of the barriers, but with the same passion and dedication I had during my racing career," said Julich.

Julich will take on a managing role with technical development, testing and time trial coaching as his main work focus. He will join Bjarne Riis' team, known as Team Saxo Bank – IT Factory for 2009, in Denmark at the end of November.

"I am looking forward to our trip to Denmark ... in order to meet with Bjarne and the rest of the staff to map out a game plan for the future. I am also looking forward to meeting the new riders and to help them adjust and develop under our system."

"He knows the team and the way we work better than most, but above all, he brings hands-on know-how, insight and great passion for the team and the sport in general," said Dane Riis.

Julich turned professional in 1992. His first major wins were with Team Cofidis from 1997 to 1999, winning the Tour de l'Ain and the Criterium International and finishing third in the 1998 Tour de France. After seasons at Crédit Agricole and Telekom, he joined CSC in 2004. He won a bronze medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics, and the Paris-Nice, Critérium International and Eneco Tour in 2005. His last professional race was the Tour de Suisse.

Hair tests confirm Boonen cocaine use

Belgium's Tom Boonen, 28, in Wielsbeke, Belgium in June
Photo ©: Tim Van Wichelen
(Click for larger image)

Hair tests confirmed Tom Boonen's use of cocaine, according to the Gazet van Antwerpen. The Belgian sprinter never admitted the use of the drug, for which he tested positive for in May.

A court in Tournhout, Belgium, must now decide whether to take action against him or not.

The Quick Step rider underwent an out-of-competition test on May 26, shortly before the start of the Tour of Belgium. That test returned positive for cocaine, which is not illegal under sporting regulations out of competition.

However, investigators may use the hair evidence to determine when he consumed the cocaine – for example, whether he took it in April during the Spring Classics. Quick Step General Manager Patrick Lefevere told that he had no comment on the matter. "Since the beginning I have said that this is a private matter of Boonen's."

Boonen read a written statement prepared by his lawyer at a press conference in June in which he apologised for the "negative news," but in which he did not admit to the use of the drug. He later claimed his innocence and that the drug must have been slipped into a drink at an open-air bar.

The Tour de France prohibited Boonen from starting in its race based on the positive test. (SW)

CONI's Torri talks with Fanini

Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) anti-doping prosecutor Ettore Torri requested a meeting and heard Ivano Fanini yesterday in Rome based on Fanini's comments on Marco Pantani to how cyclists might be warned of upcoming doping controls, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The Italian paper reported that Fanini, Team Manager of Amore & Vita-McDonald's and outspoken anti-doping critic, did not provide enough concrete evidence for Torri to open any formal investigations.

In August, Fanini suggested teams knew of doping, but took a hands-off approach. Regarding the doping cases of Riccardo Riccò and Emanuele Sella, he said, "It is very doubtful that at the base of these teams there is organised doping. ... Their reasoning is this: For us it is not important how you win, we don't control the way you prepare nor with whom you do it, but if they catch you we will fire you and save our ship."

Fanini also suggested that Liquigas' Leonardo Bertagnolli trained under the guidance of Doctor Michele Ferrari and that inside sources tipped off two-time World Champion Paolo Bettini prior to doping controls.

CONI's Torri is open to further meetings with Fanini.

The last half: A review of the ProTour teams' seasons

What was the last half of the 2008 season like for the 18 ProTour teams, and how did the whole year turn out? As the Cyclingnews staff asked, "What went right and what went wrong?"

Here is part one of a team-by-team analysis, with the teams listed in no particular order

AG2R La Mondiale

Cyril Dessel (AG2R La Mondiale)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

What went right: The French team's season could stand or fall with the Tour de France, and Vincent Lavenu was lucky: The team's top Frenchman, Cyril Dessel, did not surrender to pressure but delivered the all-important stage win (stage 16 from Cuneo to Jausiers). The 2006 wearer of the yellow jersey scored a total of four important victories this season. The team's foreign riders, like Tadej Valjavec and Vladimir Efimkin, also performed very well in the Tour, finishing tenth and eleventh respectively. Efimkin even placed second behind Riccardo Riccò on stage nine to Bagnères de Bigorre – if the Italian is disqualified, it would mean a second stage victory for AG2R La Mondiale.

What went wrong: It took the team a while to come up to top form this year. From early March until mid-May, the squad remained completely anonymous on the ProTour races, and it missed out on the French Cup completely. A drop of performance was also observed after the Tour de France.

Holding out for: Lavenu hasn't changed his rider roster much for 2009, except for adding Irish up-and-coming talent Nicolas Roche for next season, as well as Sébastien Hinault and Efimkin's twin brother Alexander. The younger riders cannot keep up at the moment, but experienced riders like Dessel, Valjavec, Efimkin, Nocentini and Elmiger make up for it.

Overall: Even though the first half of the 2008 season was dominated by a feeling of frustration, success in the Tour de France saved the team's season. Dessel came back successfully from the toxoplasmosis infection that ruined his last year, and other newcomers to the squad confirmed their competitiveness. Lavenu can be satisfied.

Read the full review, part one.

Tjallingii in running for Sexiest Vegetarian

Maarten Tjallingii of Team Silence-Lotto is in the running for the title of the Netherlands' "Sexiest Vegetarian," in a poll sponsored by a Dutch animal rights group Wakker Dier, in conjunction with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

Tjallingii, who turns 31 tomorrow, will ride for Rabobank next season. He is "a prime example that eating meat is not necessary for top athletes," stated Wakker Dier.

PETA holds the contest annually and selects its winners from various countries and continents. Last year's worldwide winners were singers Leona Lewis and Anthony Kiedis of the rock group Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Vegetarianism's strongest influence on cycling was the Linda McCartney Racing Team, which operated from 1998 to 2001. McCartney, who died in 1998, was the wife of former Beatles member Paul McCartney, and both were vegetarians. The team was to be composed strictly of vegetarian riders and support staff. Financial problems caused the team to cease operations in January 2001.

To vote for Tjallingii, or any of the other candidates visit (SW)

Celebrate with Cyclingnews' End of Season Sweepstakes

(Click for larger image)

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, the road and mountain-bike seasons are winding down and it's time to plan to get through the off-season blues (and if you live in the Southern hemisphere and your season is just getting started, no worries – your offy will be here in no time so this sweepstakes is for you too). We and our friends at CycleOps and DiNotte Lighting want to help you.

So while you're reading through our trade show coverage, dreaming about the gear you'll need to meet you 2009 riding and racing goals, and leafing through our 2009 Bike & Gear Buyer's Guide, enter our sweepstakes for a chance to win:

Our lead prize is a 2009 CycleOps PowerBeam Pro Indoor Trainer. An innovator in power measurement and training tools, CycleOps is bringing power training for cyclists indoors for winter. With their PowerBeam Indoor Trainer, you control the variables of training, you use CycleOps' software tools to plan precise workouts and you measure your power output to compare your effort with your goals.

Dinotte Lighting is offering two sets of their high-powered front and rear LED-based Pro Series light systems. The use of proprietary batteries in lighting systems is a large complaint among cyclists. Too many lights permanently fail after one season due to the chemistry of the proprietary NiMH or NiCad batteries used in value priced lighting systems. DiNotte's Pro Series lights use AA rechargeable batteries. The adoption of standard NiMH rechargeable batteries means customers can replace batteries at a moment's notice.

Hurry and enter now to be in the draw. Good luck!

(Additional editorial assistance by Susan Westemeyer.)

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