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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News, November 14, 2008

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Schumacher insists on Quick Step contract

Schumacher still wants to race after his positive test for third-generation EPO
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

German cyclist Stefan Schumacher is insisting that his contract with team Quick Step for the 2009 season is valid and that the team must fulfil it. After his positive control for EPO-CERA from the Tour de France was announced last month, the Belgian team said that it considered the already-signed contract void.

"Schumacher continues to say that he is innocent," Quick Step manager Patrick Lefevere told Sporza. "This is a cumbersome matter for me. Schumacher does not have a contract with me."

Lefevere said that he was prepared to fight for his team. "I will not pay a rider whom I do not want on general principles on my team. I am not crazy."

But Schumacher's return to racing mainly depends on whether he will be suspended or not. The German's attorney, Michael Lehner, has claimed that the re-testing of the samples by the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) was not valid. However, UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani confirmed to Cyclingnews that "the doping controls at the Tour have been conducted in accordance with the AFLD rules, which are recognised by our organisation."

The disciplinary procedure against Schumacher is currently being initiated in France by the organisation that carried out the re-testing of the samples, the AFLD. If the AFLD sanctions Schumacher, the decision will be accepted by the German cycling federation BDR and the UCI "if the conditions of the UCI rules are met," according to German sports court president Peter Barth.

Kirchen's race calendar for 2009

Kirchen will defend his Flèche title in 2009
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Kim Kirchen of Team Columbia has planned his build-up to the 2009 Tour de France, starting with the Tour of California and ending with the Luxembourg national championships.

His race schedule for the coming year is very similar to this season's, with one major change: the 30-year-old will ride the Dauphiné Libéré in June instead of the Tour de Suisse, which he has ridden for the last seven years. That will be his last stage race before the Tour.

Kirchen's preparations start with training camps on Mallorca from November 28-December 11, January 4-16 and February 4-14. From there he will fly to the United States and race in the Tour of California, before returning to Europe for Tirreno-Adriatico and Milano-Sanremo.

Four Spring Classics are also on the list: Ronde van Vlaanderen, Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne (which he won in 2008) and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. They will be followed by the Vuelta a Catalunya and the Dauphiné Libéré.

The team has thus decided to have Kirchen ride the Spring Classics as well as contending at the Tour de France again, in which this year he finished eighth. Last July, Columbia's directeur sportif Rolf Aldag assessed that it wasn't easy to choose between year-round competitiveness and focusing on a Tour de France build-up.

"During the Tour, we asked ourselves if it would have been better if Kirchen had started later during the season," Aldag said. "Then again, he's a rider who shines in the Classics, too. If you risk it and put everything on the Tour, it wouldn't suit his aggressive riding style, either. You should only do that if you believe that he can one day win it. Otherwise, it's just too nice to see him ride at the Classics. It's not realistic to win everything."

Gilmore set to announce '09 plans

By Greg Johnson

Rochelle Gilmore warming up at the Worlds
Photo ©: Davide Tricarico
(Click for larger image)

Australian sprinter Rochelle Gilmore is expected to announce her road racing plans for 2008 next week. The New South Wales rider has signed with a yet-to-be announced squad, after leaving Menikini-Selle Italia half way through 2008.

"I've been working really hard since August trying to put together something for 2009 and it has now all been signed off on and we should be able release the news next week," Gilmore told Cyclingnews.

Gilmore is currently competing at the Oceania Track Championships in Adelaide, South Australia where she is preparing for next weekend's Track World Cup round in Melbourne, Victoria. She has also just been nominated to the three finalists for the Australian women's cyclist of the year award.

The 26-year-old joined the Flexpoint team after the women's Giro d'Italia having left her former squad. A later parting of ways between Gilmore and the Dutch squad left Gilmore without a professional ride for the remainder of the season, which she described as "mentally stressful".

"This road season was the most interrupted and mentally stressful of my career," said Gilmore on her official website. "I won't go into details but the season didn't run smoothly. Looking back, perhaps I may have personally contributed to the turmoil by making some incorrect, spontaneous and trusting decisions."

Dessel to lead AG2R in 2009

Cyril Dessel wants to lift his arms again next year
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

French team AG2R La Mondiale has had a satisfying season with a total of 12 victories. Four of these alone were achieved by team leader Cyril Dessel, who will next year assume this role within the squad once again. The Frenchman, who wore the yellow jersey of the Tour de France in 2006 - finishing seventh on GC - was happy to have overcome his toxoplasmosis infection that had annulled his 2007 season.

After his first victory this year at the Four Days of Dunkirk, Dessel felt confident again. "This win was very important. It served as a trigger as it gave me my confidence back and liberated me," the 33-year-old told L'Equipe.

Stage wins at the Volta a Catalunya and the Dauphiné Libéré followed, topped off by his Tour de France stage victory in July. "This was my designated goal in the beginning of the season," Dessel continued. "This success crowned all the work that I had done during the winter and all the efforts I put into myself to return to a competitive level after my toxoplasmosis."

Naturally, after making up one third of the squad's victories this season, AG2R La Mondiale team manager Vincent Lavenu counts on Dessel to continue his good job next year. "I know that I have a leadership role within the team, even if this is not natural to me," the rather timid rider continued. "I try to give my experience to the younger riders, and to serve as an example on the bike and outside of competition, with regards to my diet and training. But during a race, I need to force myself to stay in front, to fight for my position."

For next year, Dessel hopes to confirm his victories at the Tour, as well as aiming for the national champion's jersey. "That's a race that I dream of adding to my palmarès," he said.

Great hopes on Roche

The French team will next year also be the groupe sportif of choice of Irishman Nicolas Roche, son of Tour de France winner Stephen. Roche has had a good 2008 season, taking two victories and showing his abilities in stage races such as the Vuelta a España, where he finished 13th overall. Dessel is looking forward to riding with him. "Nicolas Roche is a very good addition to the team," he added. "Together with Sébastien Hinault, they have true finisher's talents, which we lacked a little in the roster."

Team manager Lavenu confirmed that he recruited Roche for this reason. "Like Sébastien Hinault, Nicolas Roche is a winner," said Lavenu. "He has a rider profile that we missed a bit this season. He is just starting to blossom at the highest level, and a complete rider."

American U23 rider heads to European Sixdays

Jackie Simes gets ready for the Euro Sixday season
Photo ©: USA Cycling
(Click for larger image)

US American track rider Jackie Simes IV, whose home track is the Valley Preferred Cycling Center in Trexlertown, Pennsylvania, will soon start his third year participation in the European Sixday racing circuit. The 20-year-old is being sponsored by The Cycle Loft in Burlington, Massachusetts, along with some of the industry's top component manufacturers.

Simes will began with the Memorial Noel Forre in Gent, Belgium, on November 11 and then challenge his rivals at the Gent Sixday, which start on November 18, 2008. The fourth generation pro rider whose father, grandfather, great grandfather and cousin were all pro cyclists, looks to improve on his 2007 result in the Sixday, where he won the final night.

Kurt Begemann, The Cycle Loft's coach, feels that Simes has the talent and mental toughness to really make a go of it on the European Sixday circuit. "While I don't coach Jackie, I have been working hard to promote him, as I really believe he has a magnificent future ahead of him. He comes from a rich cycling pedigree and he has a good head on his shoulders," said Begemann.

2009 Team Flexpoint roster complete

Mirjam Melchers-van Poppel and Susanne Ljungskog will be leaders at Flexpoint
Photo ©: Team Flexpoint
(Click for larger image)

The women's team of Team Flexpoint has recently completed its roster for the upcoming season. Except for Anna van der Breggen, all riders rode for the team this year.

Mirjam Melchers-van Poppel, Susanne Ljungskog, Loes Gunnewijk and Loes Markerink will be the squad's leaders. Melchers is the present Dutch cyclo-cross and time trial champion and won a stage in the Giro d'Italia Femminile. Swedish Susanne Ljungskog won the Tour de l'Aude and the World Cup of Bern the past season. Loes Gunnewijk finished second in the Chrono Champenois and third in the Dutch time trial championships. Loes Markerink won seven races in 2008 and amongst them a stage in the Holland Ladies Tour and the Grand Boucles.

These four riders will be joined by Elisabeth Braam, Saskia Elemans, Iris Slappendel, Jacobien Kanis and Trine Schmidt, as well as new recruit Anna van der Breggen.

New sports director Klas Johansson and team coordinator Geert Broekhuizen are responsible for the management of the team, which is going to focus on the World Cup races next year and the important international stage races like the Tour de l'Aude, the Giro d'Italia, the Route de France and the Holland Ladies Tour. Flexpoint will kick off the 2009 season in Qatar from February 8-10.

Revolution Opener welcomes champions this week-end

The Manchester Velodrome is set to welcome a sell-out audience as Revolution returns on Saturday, November 15. Now entering its sixth season, the event opener will see such cycling stars as Brad McGee, in his final competitive outing, battle it out along with Stuart O'Grady, Matt Goss and David Millar. They will be joined by the cream of British talent including Olympic medallists Geraint Thomas, Ed Clancy, Jamie Staff, Jason Kenny, Chris Newton and Steven Burke.

With Great Britain now the team to beat on the track, a special 'Champions vs. Champions' race has been added to the programme as Team Pursuit takes on Team Sprint in a 750m flying time trial. With Staff, Kenny and Ross Edgar taking on Thomas, Clancy and Burke, the race will be one of the highlights of the evening and the result could be closer than expected.

"Of course the sprinters should be faster," commented technical director Gordon Harling. "But the flying start will level the playing field a bit. The pursuit boys train over these short sprints regularly and when I spoke to Ed [Clancy] he was well up for it."

Also included in the race programme will be the introduction of elite women's racing, a move which has provoked the increase in quality and talent in the British women's racing scene.

"We always struggled to host exciting women's racing in the early Revolutions," commented James Pope of Event Promoter FACE. "Now the sheer talent and quality has effectively forced us to recognise and include a female endurance programme across the Revolution season. With young riders like Lizzie Armistead, Katie Colclough and Alex Greenfield all making it on the podium at the Manchester World Cup the talent is there and we're confident the women's racing will be an exciting addition to the Revolution."

Full details of the event can be found on

Australian awards announce finalists

Cycling Australia has announced the finalists in the 2008 Cyclist of the Year Awards, which will be held at a gala celebration on Sunday, November 23. The night will culminate with the presentation of the Sir Hubert 'Oppy' Opperman Medal and Trophy to the 2008 Australian Cyclist of the Year.

In the category of male road cyclist of the year, the jury will choose between Cadel Evans, Simon Gerrans and Robbie McEwen. In the women's category, Rochelle Gilmore, Vicki Whitelaw and retiring Oenone Wood are the athletes chosen for the finale.

The complete list of finalists in the respective award categories can be found on the Cycling Australia website at

(With additional editorial assistance by Susan Westemeyer.)

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