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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News, October 7, 2008

Edited by Bjorn Haake

Schumacher's future unclear

German Stefan Schumacher may be struggling to find a team, but will likely be banned for a couple of years anyway
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Stefan Schumacher faces an uncertain future with his new Quick Step team after his non-negative A-sample. Schumacher has yet to react to the news, but is currently waiting on receiving more information himself from the Tour de France organisers.

His lawyer, Michael Lehner, told sid. "We cannot give a statement yet. As far as I know the documents are on their way from France. [Once we have them] we can say something to the matter."

Lehner is a well-known German lawyer who already defended several German cyclist, including Danilo Hondo, Jörg Jaksche, Patrik Sinkewitz and even Schumacher himself. Schumacher was cleared of doping accusations made against him in 2005, with Lehner being his lawyer.

After Gerolsteiner folded Schumacher signed a two-year contract with Quick Step, a signing that helped end the career of Paolo Bettini. Quick Step's manager, Patrick Lefevere, told that Schumacher may not be going to the Belgian team after all. "If he has indeed tested positive, then he will not receive a contract with us."

Lefevere added that they did their own intense testing on Schumacher and didn't find anything. Lefevere may have to find another key rider for 2009.

German TV gone again?

Following the news of Schumacher's test, German public TV is once again debating pulling out of broadcasting the Tour de France. An ARD spokes person summed up his feelings to dpa. "You just get bloody angry, when you see how these cheats destroy cycling. There is no difference if a German, Spaniard or American gets caught."

In the last meeting, a decision over a new TV contract was postponed. Now, those responsible will have a phone conference with a decision expected soon. Last year, the two German public channels, ARD and ZDF, pulled the plug after the string of doping cases in the Tour de France.

The spokes person acknowledged that the testing catches the cheats, but it may not be enough. "Catching Schumacher shows that the controls are getting more effective and the cheats are getting sorted out. But in the end the question is who can you really trust in cycling?"

The German cable channel Eurosport on the other hand did not discuss the matter and wants to continue broadcasting cycling, a spokes person told dpa.

Benítez sprints to leadership

By Monika Prell in Camargo

Benítez on the podium
Photo ©: Monika Prell
(Click for larger image)

Benfica's Javier Benítez won the first stage of the Vuelta a Chihuahua and received the leader's jersey from the hands of the chief organiser, Ricardo Creel Ryan. Benítez won the mass sprint ahead of Steffen Radochla (Elk Haus), with third going to Juan Pablo Magallanes (Tecos Trek). The stage, over 147.8 kilometres from the capital Chihuahua to Camargo, was marked by various breakaways. The last one was chased down five kilometres before the finish line.

A happy Javier Benítez said. "It was a very fast, nervous stage. I am lucky to have a magnificent team, they did a super job, but I don't know if I will be able to defend the yellow jersey."

Benítez was impressed with the third edition of the race, in which he himself participated for the first time. "I also have to praise the organisation, this race is perfectly organised, with a lot of security measures and an enthusiastic public. It's the first time I've raced here, but I already want to come back again."

The race was marked by the comeback of 44-year-old Raúl Alcalá. The Mexican finished the race in 52nd place. Alcalá won the young rider competition in 1985 in the Tour de France and finished 11th in the 1984 Olympic road race in Los Angeles.

Full results, report and photos are available. .

Legeay consultant for British cycling?

Roger Legeay may become a consultant for British cycling, after his current role as the manager of Crédit Agricole becomes void. After ten years in the pro peloton, Crédit Agricole is no longer sponsoring the team. Great Britain's cycling coach, Dave Brailsford, told that talks are being held. "We are always on the lookout for new and competent people to work for us. When you look at who is available today, one has to think about Roger Legeay. We are in discussions, but nothing is set in stone yet."

Hiring Legeay would be supported by Chris Boardman. The ex-hour record man started his road career in 1993 with Gan, the predecessor of Crédit Agricole. Boardman stayed with Legeay his entire career, until he retired in 2000. Boardman is involved with British cycling and coordinates the national coaches. He is also the director of a research and development lab.

Kaisen done at Silence-Lotto

Olivier Kaisen is down and out of Lotto
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

Olivier Kaisen has not received a new contract from his Silence-Lotto team for the coming season. Manager Marc Sergeant had told Kaisen that if he could have a roster of more than 25 riders, he could stay. Apparently that will not be the case.

Kaisen had held out hope until the end but will have to look for a new team for 2009. He told Belgian newspaper La Dernière Heure about his plans. "I was hoping to see Marc Sergeant at Franco-Belge, but that wasn't possible. Then Herman Frison told me that there wouldn't be a place for me the next season. That is bad news, because now it is late to find a team."

Kaisen isn't the only rider looking for a job, with two teams (Gerolsteiner and Crédit Agricole) ending their sponsorship at the end of 2008.

Gérard Bulens, directeur sportif of Landbouwkrediet - Tönissteiner, has noticed the strength of Kaisen. "He's a rider who I would like to have, obviously. But for now, I am waiting on the reactions [to contract offers] of my riders, [Bert] Scheirlinckx, [Jan] Kuyckx and [Filip] Meirhaeghe with regards with 2009. Then I can see what budget I have left."

Pucinskaite switches to Italian team

Edita Pucinskaite will be racing for Dilà Cmax in 2009
Photo ©: Dilà Team Cmax
(Click for larger image)

Edita Pucinskaite of the German Equipe Nürnberger will head to Italy for next season. The Lithuanian rider will form part of the Dilà Cmax, run by Max Bonanomi. Pucinskaite signed a one-year contract with the team based in Lombardy.

The manager was satisfied with the signing. "It is something we wanted to accomplish and finally we managed. Edita is an athlete of great international status. She is also intelligent and experienced. For our team she certainly will be a key player."

Pucinskaite spent two seasons with Nürnberger, for which she won the 2007 Giro d'Italia.

Pucinskaite already resides in Monsummano Terme, Tuscany, which makes it easy to be close to the team. Spaniard Marta Vilajosana will also be part of Dilà Team Cmax.

Flexpoint and Vrienden van het Platteland merge

Mirjam Melchers-van Poppel (Team Flexpoint) will be the captain of the new uber-team
Photo ©: Bert Geerts
(Click for larger image)

The two women's teams Flexpoint and Vrienden van het Platteland will merge together for the 2009 season. This will make it the biggest women's team in the Netherlands. The agreement is supposed to run at least until the Olympic Games in 2012.

Captain of the team will be Mirjam Melchers-van Poppel. Confirmed riders are also Loes Markerink, Loes Gunnewijk and Belgian Liesbet de Vocht.

The name of the team will be announced next week. It will be a combination of the two, with the Vrienden van het Platteland name being shortened.

Team public relations officer Geert Broekhuizen told Cyclingnews that currently 12 riders have a contract for next season. Ten are from Flexpoint and two from Vrienden van het Platteland. Two more open spots are available and negotiations are currently going on. One of the riders in talks with the team would be serving as the second captain, behind Melchers-van Poppel, but the name has not been released yet. Cyclingnews diarist Rochelle Gilmore - who joined the Flexpoint team in mid-summer - and Martine Bras, currently of Vrienden van het Platteland, will not be part of the new set up.

Jean-Paul van Poppel, the husband of Mirjam Melchers- van Poppel, will function as the technical manager. It won't be a full time role, as van Poppel is part of the new Cervélo team.

Flexpoint is an international service provider of human resources in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium. Vrienden van het Platteland is an organisation that informs the citizens and consumers about matters of the Dutch agricultural sector.

Jayco Herald Sun Tour ready to roll

The 57th Jayco Herald Sun Tour starts on October 12 in Traralgon, Australia. One of the biggest names at the start will be Brad McGee, who will be lining up for his last professional bike race. McGee retires this season as a rider, but will continue as a directeur sportif.

There are other favourites for the overall title, such as David Pell, the winner of the 2008 Australian Road Series. Pell is backed by a strong Savings & Loans team.

The tour will open with a circuit race that doesn't form part of the general classification. Over the past two years the final stage has proved pivotal in deciding the winner of the Tour. In 2006 Simon Gerrans took the time bonuses on offer in the final sprint to claim overall honours ahead of Chris Jongewaard. Last year Matt Wilson had to mark Astana's Steve Morabito all the way to the line as he held just a slender three-second advantage over the Swiss climber.

A L'Etape du Tour - named after the famous ride of the Tour de France - will offer everyone to get a feel for how it is to ride a stage. This year, the choice was for people to be able to test the slopes of Mt Buller, part of the queen stage of this year's tour. The vent takes place on October 16, with a scheduled start of 8:30, at the Botanic Gardens in Mansfield.

For those rather interested in hanging out, the euro-style 'Go for your life' Tour Villages at the start of each stage will offer a glimpse on the final pre-race preparations of the pros.

The village is a great opportunity for children and adults alike to participate in a variety of 'come and try' activities, health promotion activities, tour sponsor displays, free sponsor give-aways and entertainment.

For those who deem L'Etape du Tour too hard, there will be a 'Go for your life' Community Ride on Sunday 12 October in Traralgon. It's free and fun for everyone. The ride starts at 15:10.

Degenkolb with historic triple

John Degenkolb of the Thüringer Energie Team has won the overall classification of the season-long German Bundesliga series. He also took the young rider classification and with Thüringer he also took the teams classification. Degenkolb was the first rider ever in the Bundesliga to win all three titles in one season.

The directeur sportif, Gerald Mortag, was impressed with the way the team of Degenkolb, Philipp Klein and Lucas Schädlich handled the last race, a track event in Büttgen. "The guys rode superbly. We had already won [the teams classification]. But when we start, we want to be ahead."

Degenkolb won all three races that he participated in. In the 3000m pursuit he used his points race bike to clock 3:31. Mortag couldn't help but but wonder about the underequipped performance. "Who knows how fast he can go with a regular time trial bike."

LKT Brandenburg and Team Ista were second and third in the teams classification. In the individual ranking, Degenkolb won ahead of Matthias Belka (LKT Brandenburg) and German U23 champion Martin Reimer (LKT Brandenburg). In the young rider classification, Degenkolb beat out Dominik Nerz (Ista) and Philipp Ries (Rothaus).

Degenkolb has also started on his international success story. He recently won the bronze medal in the U23 road race at the World Championships in Varese, Italy.

Junior Jim Takes Yellow In Western Cape Spring League

Songezo Jim dominates the juniors
Photo ©: Life Cycling Academy
(Click for larger image)

Eighteen-year-old Songezo Jim has taken yellow in the junior category of the Western Cape's Spring League after beating former yellow jersey holder Bernard Venter. The 110km Medscheme Tour de Vino cycling event was held in South Africa on Sunday, October 5, at the Boschendal Wine Estate.

Jim - who rides for the acsis junior competitive program - finished second in last Sunday's event, three seconds behind category winner Johan van Zyl, the current South Africa Junior road cycling champion. Only five kilometers into the race the climb of Helshoogte saw several riders in difficulty. The bunch spread out, with the acsis riders pacing at the front. Team Neotel took over and pulled for most of the race.

Life Cycling Academy's Glyn Broomberg commented on the performance of the new Junior yellow jersey holder. "Songezo Jim is one of the LCA's most promising cyclists and a worthy winner of the yellow jersey. We are very proud of his achievement; this is the first time that a black cyclist has taken yellow in the Junior category in any of the Western Province cycling leagues."

Broomberg is confident Jim - who lives in Masephumelele near Kommetjie - will retain the jersey until the end of the Spring league. "Not only is Songezo a very talented cyclist, but he is also very committed to the sport and to training hard to achieve results, particularly since his return from a visit to the Tour de France." Jim was one of six Life Cycling Academy cyclists who visited the 2008 Tour de France as guests of the winning team, Team CSC-Saxo Bank.

While in Europe, Jim impressed his hosts when he rode Alpe d'Huez - the Tour's most famous 14km, hors catégorie mountain climb - in an impressive 52 minutes.

(Additional editorial assistance provided by Ben Atkins)

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