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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News, November 10, 2008

Edited by Gregor Brown

Bettini ends career with six day win

Paolo Bettini, 34, waves good-bye at the Milano Six Day
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Italian Paolo Bettini, 34, ended his professional career yesterday with the overall win in the Milano Six Day. The two-time road world champion battled back with partner Joan Llaneras after a serious crash on the opening day.

"I have never won a six day race and this one came after a difficult week. ... I am happy to arrive on top. Ending in the velodrome is beautiful because I felt the enthusiasm of the crowd up close," said Bettini to La Gazzetta dello Sport on Sunday.

Yaroslav Popovych crashed on the track's banking and forced Bettini and Australian Luke Roberts down as well as they tried to avoid Popovych. Bettini broke his helmet after colliding with the track's inner wall. Medics rushed him to the hospital where doctors preformed a check, including a CAT scan of his head, and he had to sit out day two of racing.

"I was afraid on Tuesday, but I could not finish this way."

Bettini fought back in day three and recovered three lost laps in the Madison event with Spaniard Llaneras. The duo won ahead of Filippo Pozzato and partner Roberts by 13 points.

Friends – Luca Paolini and Andrea Tonti – and family – wife Monica, parents Giuliano and Giuliana – arrived on Sunday to watch Bettini's final day of racing. They and the other six day competitors paid a special tribute to the rider from La California on the track following the race.

"I will start a new life now. I know I will miss the races, like Ličge [Ličge-Bastogne-Ličge], but I won't reconsider. ... After 27 years on the bike, it is logical that the group will remain in my heart, but I want to slowly take steps towards a normal life. I will need to have courage to do so. I will not escape, because cycling is my world. I don't know how or when, but you will see me again."

Bettini announced his retirement on the eve of the road world championships in Varese. The race was his last official race on the road.

Cipollini joins Team ISD

Mario Cipollini, 41, joins with Team ISD
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Former World Champion Mario Cipollini has joined forces with new team ISD. The 41 year-old will act as a consultant for the Ukrainian-backed Italian team of Luca Scinto and Angelo Citracca, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport

"We have created a lot of similar ideas. You will see me some times in the team car or training with the riders," Cipollini said.

Cipollini won many big races, including the 2002 Milano-Sanremo and World Championships, before retiring in 2005. He worked as a consultant for Team Liquigas after retirement and did the same for Rock Racing during his brief comeback last spring, which included a third behind Tom Boonen in stage two of the Tour of California.

"It was an experience," he said of working with Michael Ball's Team Rock Racing. "Every great athlete wants to feel it, even after retiring. I understand the desire of [Lance] Armstrong to return to the top. I took the post at Rock Racing immediately, but in America I could not give the contributions that I would have liked to."

Scinto and Citracca were to have extra funding for Cipollini and the team from Danieli, but the company backed out of its offer to sponsor the Professional Continental team, according to the newspaper. It was set to provide one million in budget for the team.

"The team will have 20 riders. The leader will be [Giovanni] Visconti, but also look out for [Dmitry] Grabovskiy and [Andriy] Grivko."

Editor introduces Basso diary

Ivan Basso writes diary for Cyclingnews
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Welcome to my first editor's comment. I'm here to unveil Ivan Basso's exclusive online diary. You don't need to point out that there would have been easier, less controversial topics to begin with, but like a plastic wrapper to an adult magazine, this was a necessity – not a legally-binding one, but one born out of respect for our audience.

Over the next year Basso will be giving you an exclusive account of his return to the sport and his search for redemption. He'll document how cycling has changed since his ban; the peloton's reactions towards his return and of course his new transparent aims on training and racing. You can also expect snippets of analysis from his coach, Aldo Sassi.

I hope Basso's diary will deliver an insightful glance into the complex and often far too secretive lair of a cycling superstar. Yes, there are easier, perhaps softer riders we could have worked with but whatever your preconceived opinions of Ivan Basso as a rider and human being, by Sassi's and other accounts, Basso's talent and resolve will soon reposition him right back at the pinnacle of his sport, its biggest races, and hence public consciousness.

As a news-based site it puts our publication in a difficult position. You'll ask, and rightfully so, where does Cyclingnews position itself on matter of banned riders and their quest for redemption? Does this contradict a desire to cleanse cycling? What about the riders Basso beat, do they deserve more?

If anything, I hope our site will always be there to inform, challenge and entertain our readers. I'd see that not as contradiction, but rather that Cyclingnews relays a spectrum of all-encompassing opinions. Where we're not afraid to ask or answer tough questions of our sport and where we try and leave you, the reader, in a position to make up your own minds.

Daniel Benson

The politics of anti-doping

Christian Prudhomme's leadership has signalled a new era
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The fight against doping has made great strides in recent years, but will the peace deal between the UCI and the ASO actually be a setback? David Walsh, chief sports writer for the Sunday Times and author of L. A. Confidentiel, L.A. Officiel and From Lance to Landis gives insight into the pros and cons of the politics of the anti-doping fight.

For those with a fondness for scepticism, Pierre Bordry's recently expressed view that "80 percent of the peloton is clean" could not pass unnoticed. It was an arresting utterance from the head of the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) for many reasons. Bordry has had access to some of the evidence, he is antagonistic towards the UCI and its president Pat McQuaid, and, most importantly, he has no commercial motive for suggesting professional cycling is cleaner than it is. If it is true that 80 percent of the peloton is now drug-free, cycling has come a long way in a short time and has much to lose by any return to the ineffective controls of what might be called 'the Verbruggen era'.

In the same interview, Bordry also highlighted the danger of the UCI returning to the time when many riders cheated without much risk of detection. And if we take seriously Bordry's '80 percent', we must also respect his fear of regression. Perhaps as much as at any time in the recent past, cycling is at a crossroads and, perhaps strangely, concern about the future is not lessened by the rapprochement in the relationship between the UCI and the sport's biggest commercial partner, the Amaury Sports Organisation.

First, it should be acknowledged there has been progress. Many professional teams have made honest efforts to combat doping and to make it less easy for their own riders to cheat. People like Jonathan Vaughters [Garmin-Chipotle], Jean-René Bernaudeau [Bouygues Telecom], Bob Stapleton [Columbia], Eric Boyer [Cofidis] and Marc Madiot [Française des Jeux] have embraced the challenge of changing cycling's culture and have helped make the sport cleaner. David Millar has deservedly regained the respect and affection he enjoyed at the beginning of his career and plenty of others have committed to riding drug-free. One day we may able to say to Christophe Bassons and all those who suffered for their sanity that it wasn't in vain.

Read the rest of The politics of anti-doping.

Simoni ready to battle Armstrong

Gilberto Simoni, 37, ready for Giro d'Italia battle
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Two-time Giro d'Italia champion Gilberto Simoni is ready for a challenging 2009 Giro d'Italia full of dangerous rivals. The 37 year-old Italian from Trentino sized up his rivals, including Lance Armstrong, during a visit to the EICMA bicycle trade show in Milano.

"Armstrong is a talent. He will go strong at the Giro. But this is a difficult course that he does not know. We will do everything to turn the screws," said Team Diquigiovanni's Simoni to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

USA's Armstrong, seven-time winner of the Tour de France, revealed in October he would race the Giro d'Italia as part of his comeback. The 37 year-old announced his return to cycling in September. The presence of him and past winners Danilo Di Luca, Ivan Basso and Damiano Cunego will make it difficult for Simoni to win his third title.

Regarding Basso, Simoni said, "I don't even consider him." He considers a second Grand Tour out of Cunego's reach. "He is more of a rider for the Classics."

It will be the last season for Simoni, who is also targeting the Marathon mountain bike world championships.

Klöden enters Armstrong-Gerdemann row

Andreas Klöden remarks on Linus Gerdemann
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

German Andreas Klöden took up the fight against Linus Gerdemann and for his new teammate Lance Armstrong. The Astana rider criticised Team Milram's new signing for his comments regarding Armstrong in what appears to be a developing generational battle.

Klöden, 33, said to that his 26 year-old countryman has "a small profile neurosis" which makes him force his way into the media, presenting himself as "Mr. Clean and the saviour of German cycling," while not showing enough respect to Armstrong.

Gerdemann, winner of stage seven in the 2007 Tour de France and holder of its leader's jersey, signed with Milram at the end of October. He bought out his contract with Team Columbia, where he raced for three years.

He explained that the media misrepresented his comments after the Milram press conference last week and that he had not criticised the seven-time Tour de France winner. "I said that the name of Armstrong is always mentioned in connection with doping in the media, and that this is not 100 percent good for cycling," he said to dpa press agency.

"Linus will do all he can to get press," said Klöden, winner of this year's Tour de Romandie. "I don't have to go up to every camera and present myself as the saviour of cycling. Linus should keep calm and show respect" for Armstrong. Gerdemann "is promoting himself at the cost of other riders. ... He has only once accomplished anything" by winning the Deutschland Tour this year.

Armstrong, who will join former Team Manager Johan Bruyneel and Klöden at Team Astana, responded to Gerdemann's rumoured remarks. He threatened to chase Gerdemann if he tried to join an escape group. Klöden reminded Gerdemann that he would need "friends in the peloton," and that Armstrong would not be one of them; "Lance was angry." (SW)

Gesink developing into classification rider

Robert Gesink of Team Rabobank is more than satisfied with his "perfect" Vuelta a Espańa. The 22 year-old finished seventh overall in only his first Grand Tour, and he saw it as an affirmation that he was developing from being strictly a climber to being a classification rider.

After a few difficulties at first, the Vuelta "went perfectly for me and I got the maximum out of it," Gesink told "I didn't have a single bad day, and finished in the top ten in every mountain stage, even finishing fourth once. I had two perfect time trials and only had two slight breakdowns. That was enough for a top ten finish."

It was the first Grand Tour for the second-year professional, and he considered it affirmation that he was developing from being strictly a climber to being a classification rider.

The high-finish had its down side, however. Gesink said that "from time to time it is totally crazy" because of all the requests made of him. "Sometimes after a busy period you just want to rest, and you don't need the attention or questions which you have to think about." (SW)

Bikes & Gear magazine: The essential 2009 preview guide

Bikes & Gear magazine: The essential 2009 preview guide
Photo ©: Future Publishing
(Click for larger image)

Now is the time of year when many of us start thinking and dreaming of the bikes and gear that we want to buy in time for the start of the season. Bike companies produce a wonderful array of products which we all get excited about owning.

To help you make a more informed buying decision and produced a magazine that gives you an insight into the bikes and gear that'll be available in 2009. The Bikes & Gear 2009 Preview is the essential guide to the newest, coolest and most technologically advanced bikes, wheels and gear for the 2009 season.

Industry insiders attend the yearly unveiling of new products at events such as Eurobike and Interbike. This guide will give you the opportunity to see some of the same wonderful bikes and gear that they viewed there.

The editors assembled a mix of both road and mountain bikes and components. You'll see the bikes the pros ride both on and off roads but also a huge line of bikes encompassing all price ranges in both disciplines and as a bonus, they included women's, kids' and cyclo-cross bikes, too.

It's a must-read. Find out more and order your copy.

(Additional editorial assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer.)

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