First Edition Cycling News, October 5, 2008
Edited by Sue George
Vinokourov next to try comeback
Alexander Vinokourov is planning to return to the peloton in 2009. "I think I have my place at Astana," he said in an interview with the Belgian TV show Sportweekend, to be broadcast Sunday evening. The Kazakh rider this summer finished a one-year suspension for blood doping, after testing positive at the Tour de France 2007.
The 35 year-old said that he does not plan to ride the Tour de France. "My first goal is the Giro," he said, according to sporza.be.
Vinokourov announced his retirement in December after receiving a light one-year suspension from the Kazakh Cycling Federation. He was reported to be training for the Beijing Olympics, but this summer denied that he was planning to return to racing.
"I want to return because I don't want it to end this way," Vinokourov said. "I built my image and career bit by bit and I don't want it to stop this way."
He would like to ride for his former team Astana, although he has not yet held talks with the team. "But my fans would find it strange if I rode somewhere else," Vinokourov said. "The team was made for me because I wanted to win the Tour."
Astana cycling spokesperson Philippe Maertens told Cyclingnews Saturday that the team had no comment since Vinokourov had not contacted them about his comeback or a place on the squad.
Vinokourov may run into some obstacles to his planned return. UCI president Pat McQuaid said the rider would have to complete a two-year suspension. "There is no way he comes back until he agrees on the two-year suspension," McQuaid told Reuters on Saturday. "The UCI had a case pending with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which we only withdrew because he announced he was retiring."
If the case were reactived and Vinokourov were to serve a two-year ban, he would not be eligible to race until late July of 2009.
Tour of Missouri gets upgrade
By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor
The Tour of Missouri, one of the biggest stage races in the US after only two years, will join its two sister races, the Tours of California and Georgia, with a top 2.HC rating on the recently released 2008-2009 UCI calendar. The race, bankrolled by the state's board of tourism and backed by the Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder, is run by Medalist Sports which also works with the other two tours.
Medalist's managing partner Chris Aronhalt announced the rating upgrade last Thursday to the annual Governor's Conference on Tourism, a US$13.4 billion state industry, according to the Kansas City Star. Governor Matt Blunt and Lieutenant Governor Kinder appropriated state funding to help start the event in 2007 that Aronhalt told the Star this year amounted to around US$1.7 million of the event's US$3.3 million total budget.
Medalist has a three-year contract with the state which ends in 2009. With Blunt not seeking re-election and Kinder running again, the future of the race is uncertain beyond 2009, at least in terms of support from the state. Aronhalt said he was at the conference to find host and route cities for 2009, but also to begin looking for a title sponsor to replace the state funding necessary to run the race for a fourth year and beyond.
"The state has done a fantastic job giving birth to the tour," Aronhalt told the Star. "But a title sponsor is what is necessary for the tour to continue."
Of course the assembled crowds were asking what the return of Lance Armstrong could mean to the race, if the former Tour de France winner were to compete in Missouri. Aronhalt said he is hoping Armstrong puts Missouri on his 2009 schedule, but said not to count on it. "It would be icing on the cake," he said. "But we want to make sure it isn't built on one rider."
The hors categorie rating increase does not affect items such as the make-up of the field, which has the same requirements as a 2.1 rating for the America Tour, the continental circuit where all of the racing in North America resides. In other words, the amount of ProTour teams is still limited to 50 percent and the minimum amount of foreign teams required is still five. But items such as prize money minimums do increase and could help attract higher profile teams.
As well, the rating will increase the amount of UCI points on offer; and with the race at such a late date on the calendar, it could play host to an America Tour points battle.
Khalilov wins in Italy with well-timed attack
Ukrainian Mykhaylo Khalilov won the fourth edition of the Memorial Cimurri / Gran Premio Bioera, which started in Cavriago and finished in Reggio Emilia in Italy.
After launching an attack in the final kilometer, the 33 year-old Ceramica Flaminia-Bossini Docce racer won by just one second in front of a charging group of eleven riders. In a sprint behind Khalilov, former Italian national champion Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step) took second and Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes-Ballan) finished third.
"I'm going through a good period of form," said Khalilov. "But I must stress the work done today by the team. In the end, we controlled the pace and we promptly attacked our opponents. We were extraordinary. I thanked the whole team, including mechanics and masseurs. "
Khalilov and his compatriot Wladimir Duma had just signed contracts with the team for 2009.
The race was started by a special guest, the newly retired two-time World Champion and 2004 Olympic Games gold medallist Paolo Bettini.
After a fast start in the first 10 kilometers, a group of five escaped, including Francesco Gavazzi (Lampre), Vladimir Duma (Ceramica Flaminia - Bossini Showers), Walter Proc (LPR - Ballan), Daniele Contrin (Tinkoff - Credit Systems) And Fabrice Piedmont (NGC Medical - OTC Industria Porte).
The five earned a maximum advantage of 6'57" by kilometer 33, but the group was caught with about 48km to go as the sixteen teams in the race decided to take command.
Belgian champion sprints to stage win and overall lead
Jürgen Roelandts (Silence - Lotto) won stage three ahead of fellow Belgians Wouter Weylandt (Quick Step) and Philippe Gilbert (Française des Jeux) in stage three of the 68th Circuit Franco-Belge on Saturday. They were part of a group of that escaped near the end of the race.
For much of the race, Lars Bak (Team CSC-Saxo Bank) and Mickael Delage (Française des Jeux) were off the front in a break together. They broke away at 46km and built a maximum lead of eight minutes, but were caught with 12km remaining.
The final escape group included Gilbert, Nick Nuyens (Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone), Stijn Devolder (Quick Step), Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank), Weylandt, Bram Tankink (Rabobank), Gabriel Rasch (Credit Agricole), Steve Houannard (Skil-Shimano) and Jan Bakelants (Topsport Vlaanderen), who won recently The Tour de l'Avenir. The leader at the beginning of the stage, Tyler Farrar (Garmin Chipotle) made a strong bid to defend his jersey, but could not reel in the leaders. He finished 12th and lost 18 seconds and the race lead.
Thanks to his win, Roelandts took over the top spot in the overall classification with one stage remaining.
"I knew I was one the fastest in this group, with Weylandt," said Roelandts. "In the last kilometre, Nick Nuyens put in a strong attack. But, fortunately for me, Gilbert reacted. I was in third position, the best place for the sprint. I'm so happy to win here. It's only the second time that I won with my Belgian champion's jersey.
"I didn't feel good during the first stage, but my condition is increasing, and I am confident for the last stage. I will do my best to keep this yellow jersey even if, with riders as Gilbert or Devolder, it won't be easy."
Due to bad weather expected Sunday, the stage between Havré and Tournai will be shortened to 35 kilometers.
Popovych denies retirement rumors
Yaroslav Popovych denied rumors of a possible separation with his Silence-Lotto team for 2009. The rider said in a statement that he is under contract with his team until 2010, and he does not intend to end it.
"With the team and especially my DS Roberto Damiani, I have a very good relationship. As for the rumors about me, I can assure you that they are devoid of any foundation."
The 28 year-old Ukrainian Popvych was reported to be leaving his team and ending his career last week.
Armstrong's return no distraction for Tour de France anti-doping efforts
Jean-Etienne Amaury, the new president of the Amaury Sport Organization who replaced Patrice Clerc, indicated that the fight against doping would remain a top priority for the Tour de France, with or without Lance Armstrong competing.
"The Tour de France's position has always been very strict and that will not change in the years to come," he said. Amaury had previously indicated that he is aware of how doping had harmed the credibility of cycling,
Referring to Armstrong, Amaury told L'Equipe, "We can't say that he has not embarrassed the Tour de France, as he has had a quite a complicated history with it."
Amaury did not think Armstrong's planned participation in the Tour de France in 2009 would cause the race to fall under suspicion. "Today's tools in the fight against doping are different."
"The last time I checked I won the tour seven straight years and was never once found to be guilty of doping despite seven years of intense scrutiny," said Armstrong in response through his spokesperson Mark Higgins. "Not to mention that my team of 25 riders over those seven years was also never found to be positive. We won clean and fair. Also, according to industry standards, TV ratings, worldwide media impressions, spectators along the route, and global sponsorships were at an all time high. Where's the embarrassment in that?"
Armstrong then reiterated his objective is to "bring about global awareness" of cancer and the ongoing fight against it. "Nobody ever said that I need the Tour de France in order to try and achieve this," said Armstrong. "It comes down to an issue of distraction, while I love the event and France's people, I cannot accept this sort of grandstanding which distracts from the Livestrong message that is urgently needed, and being sought out, in many other places around the world."
Cyclingnews' recent coverage of Lance Armstrong's comeback
January 18, 2009 - Armstrong announces start of Catlin's drug testing programme
Petacchi's team and two others ousted from Paris-Tours
Last year's winner Alessandro Petacchi will not race Paris-Tours on October 12 after all. His LPR Brakes team was ousted on Saturday by organizer Amaury Sport Organization (ASO) because it is not part of the blood passport program. According to the AFP, LPR Brakes and two other teams, Mitsubishi and Collstrop, were denied entry for the same reason.
"The UCI [International Cycling Union] has officially confirmed Friday that these teams are not included in the passport blood program. We immediately decided to pull them out of the race," a representative of ASO to AFP.
The ProTour teams had threatened to boycott the race if the continental teams not participating in the UCI's anti-doping program were allowed to compete according to sportwereld.be. A similar boycott threat is expected for the upcoming Tour of Lombardy.
The revised roster for Paris-Tours now includes 22 teams.
Revised Teams for Paris-Tours: Gerolsteiner, Milram, Landbouwkrediet, Quick Step, Silence, Topsport, CSC-Saxo Bank, Caisse d'Epargne, Euskaltel, Garmin, Columbia, AG2R, Agritubel, Bouygues Telecom, Cofidis, Credit Agricole, Française des Jeux, Lampre, Liquigas, Tinkoff, Rabobank, Skil
New record for Phinney
18 year-old captures second straight elite individual pursuit title
Taylor Phinney (Garmin-Chipotle) set a new track record in the men's 4,000-meter individual pursuit and won his third national title of the week on Friday at the 2008 USA Cycling Elite Track National Championships at the ADT Event Center velodrome.
Phinney clocked a time of four minutes, 23.514 seconds in the qualifying round to establish the new record before beating Daniel Harm (Broadmark) in the gold medal final to win his second consecutive elite title in the individual pursuit and complement his kilometer time trial and team pursuit titles from earlier in the week. Third-place finisher Julian Kyer (RMCEF Racing) took the bronze medal ahead of Daniel Lionberg (Colorado State University) and also earned the U23 national championship.
Heulot's new team almost complete
With the recruitment of Jeremiah and Florian Morizot Galland from Auber 93, 1996 French national champion Stephane Heulot has nearly completed the roster for the pro team he is launching according to the AFP.
Heulot has already engaged Jimmy Engoulvent, Julien Simon, Jean-Marc Marino and Yannick Talabardon, four riders left available after the decision of Credit Agricole to end its team. Benoît Sinner and Cedric Coutouly (Agritubel), Laurent Mangel (AG2R) and neo-pros Cyril Bessy (CR4C Roanne) and Fabrice Jeandesboz (Vendée U) are on the team.
The French team, which is yet unnamed, is expected to recruit one additional rider, likely a neo-pro.
No riders complete full Simpson Desert Bike Challenge
By Su Spencer
There have been tough years in the past, but in 2008 the Simpson Desert finally won. On the fourth day of the race, held mostly in South Australia, temperatures in the low 40s (degrees Celsius) and a headwind of up to 90kph took out the only two riders still eligible for the treasured 100% completion medallion. Not a single rider was able to complete the full distance by maintaining the required 12kph average speed. In the 22 year-history of the race this is the first time that the Desert has managed a clean sweep.
Riders receive a time penalty for uncompleted distance, rather than being eliminated. So there was still a race winner - Lynton Stretton of Queensland, who was also the oldest rider to reach Birdsville. The very determined Warren Quinn, urged on in spirit by a number of previous riders from Parkes NSW, came up to second overall, nudging out Heinz von Holzen from Bali. Slovakian rider Roman Petr hung on for fourth. Stretton won the 50-59 year-old category, Quinn the 40-49 year-old category and William Bird (SA) took the 30-39 year-old category.
Given the tough conditions this year, Saturday morning's traditional finish at the historic Birdsville Hotel was never more welcome for a group of exhausted riders.
The Simpson Desert Challenge consists of nine timed stages over five days and covers around 580 km.
Tour de Nez on TV
The Tour de Nez, which saw a huge resurgence in 2008 by adding multiple stages to its race, will be featured on US television this week. The Universal Sports Network will air a recap of the race, beginning on Thursday, October 9 at 9:00 pm EDT, followed by two more replays.
The 2008 race was won by Bissell's Aaron Olson after a final stage battle with Andy Bajadali (Kelly Benefits Strategies-Medifast) who had led for most of the race. The race added a queen stage this year at the Northstar at Tahoe ski resort, which completely changed the make-up of the race, from a criterium-heavy race in previous years to a battle of attrition on the slopes of Northstar.
Polazzi tests positive
Former Belgian junior champion Michael Polazzi tested positive in a test from a race this summer. A urine test came up positive for testosterone from the first stage of the Tour de Liège raced July 17 according to Dernière Heure- Les Sports. The 22 year-old Polazzi, who rides for Team Bodysol-Euromillion-PCW, denied doping and is seeking a second opinion.
(Editorial assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer, Bjorn Haake and Mark Zalewski.)
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2008)