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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News, October 14, 2008

Edited by Bjorn Haake

Zomegnan: Armstrong to raise Giro's awareness

By Gregor Brown

Lance Armstrong wants to raise cancer awareness, but will also raise Giro status
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Lance Armstrong's announcement yesterday that he would race the Giro d'Italia came as a welcome sign for race director Angelo Zomegnan. The three-week race is largely considered an Italian affair, but the seven-time Tour de France winner's presence will change the Giro's global appeal.

"It is another step ahead in the internationalisation of the Giro d'Italia and gives further value to the Giro," said Italy's Zomegnan to Cyclingnews.

Race organiser RCS Sport announced Armstrong's decision to race in the 2009 event – May 9 to 31 – yesterday. There has been speculation that the American, 37, would include the Giro d'Italia in his programme since he stated he would come back to racing last month. In his career, which includes winning the Tour de France seven times in a row, he never raced Italy's Grand Tour.

"He has stopped for three years; we don't know how he will go. He is a rider that if he puts himself to an objective it is because he has a certain feeling that he can return at a good level and be a protagonist."

Past champions of the Tour de France also won the Giro d'Italia. Five-time Tour winners Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain all won at least one edition of the Italian tour.

Armstrong's presence will add an extra reason for the Giro d'Italia to celebrate in 2009. The 92nd edition will mark 100 years since the race organisers held the first event in 1909.

"It is important for Armstrong because he likely had a regret that he never participated. He is the only one that can win the centenarian Giro after he won the centenarian Tour."

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of Lance Armstrong's comeback

January 18, 2009 - Armstrong announces start of Catlin's drug testing programme
January 8, 2009 - Armstrong impresses Carmichael prior to Tour Down Under
January 7, 2009 - Armstrong believes Team Astana can dominate Tour
December 10, 2008 - Merckx: Armstrong's return good for cycling and Giro
December 8, 2008 - Armstrong climbs Teide
December 6, 2008 - Rast on life with Armstrong
December 5, 2008 - Armstrong considers Tour of Ireland
December 5, 2008 - Armstrong: Contador is the best
December 4, 2008 - Horner unites with Armstrong despite past differences
December 3, 2008 - Armstrong and Contador ride separate paths towards Tour
December 2, 2008 - Armstrong surfs with Astana
December 2, 2008 - Armstrong plans to race Tour
December 1, 2008 - Armstrong's anti-doping testing program pending
November 23, 2008 - Media out of love with Armstrong?
November 22, 2008 - Andreu caught up in Armstrong fight again
November 19, 2008 - Armstrong concerned about Tour safety
November 17, 2008 - Armstrong to meet with ASO
November 9, 2008 - Armstrong racing in Texas again
November 7, 2008 - Exclusive Armstrong wind tunnel video
November 7, 2008 - Lance Armstrong speaks at Web 2.0 conference
November 6, 2008 - Carmichael dials in Armstrong's comeback training
November 5, 2008 - Armstrong looking for balance
November 5, 2008 - Photos from Armstrong's wind tunnel test
November 3, 2008 - Armstrong doubles up and heads to wind tunnel

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of Lance Armstrong's comeback

Armstrong wants to go pink, probably not yellow

Lance Armstrong has had enough yellow jersey and may go only for pink this year
Photo ©: Jon Devich
Click for larger image

Lance Armstrong will likely make the Giro d'Italia his only three-week race next season. His main goal is to raise global awareness for cancer and the Texan has a feeling that the Tour's attention may be too distracting from that.

While Armstrong decided only last week to ride the Giro d'Italia, it was something that was in his head for a long time. In an interview to Gazzetta dello Sport he explained why he never raced the Giro before. "I like my routine, I won my first Tour without going to Italy and I didn't want to change my programme. Even in my personal life I am very methodical. Changes make me feel insecure."

But things have changed and the next Giro being the Centenary one added to his desire to race in the country where he used to live for a while. "I have many friends here. There is also the possibility to make more people aware of the fight against cancer."

Armstrong wouldn't be Armstrong if he wouldn't want to leave a mark on the Italian roads, though. "I have no experience with this race... I certainly will come here to try to win it. It is possible that the Giro will be the only three-week race I will do."

There are still some doubts about his Tour de France appearance. "Everybody knows about its importance but there are the problems with the organisers, journalists and fans. This could be detracting from my main goal, the global awareness of the fight against cancer."

Armstrong tried to make headway early on in his comeback trail. "Before I announced my comeback, I contacted the organisers, but I did not get any response. Is there a chance they wouldn't invite me? Everything is possible, but I would find that incredible."

Armstrong explained his two main motivators to return to racing. "The first is a sportive one. I believe I am still competitive. The second is social. In the bike saddle I am more efficient in the fight against cancer." But he certainly missed the old days. "When I watched the Tour in July my desire [to race] came back. The decision was definite in August, when I finished second in a mountain bike race in Colorado."

The seven-time Tour winner explained once again his desire to fully cooperate in the doping controls, which includes his own personal testing. The results will be made available on the internet. "Don Catlin is an authority and has an indisputable reputation. But I will also be tested by WADA [World Anti Doping Agency], USADA [USA anti-doping agency], UCI [international cycling union], IOC [international Olympic committee, USOC [USA Olympic committee]. I will be available to everyone, anytime."

Armstrong acknowledged that the sport is in a bit of trouble. "Sure, confidence in cycling is lost among riders, managers, organisers, journalists, sponsors and obviously fans. But we test more than in any other sport. It is therefore easier to catch people. I would like to see the same testing done in others sports."

Even if he could convince people he came back clean, Armstrong thought there will always be doubters. "There will be some who say, yeah, he is clean now, but what about the past?"

AFLD done with Tour testing – no more cases

The French anti-doping agency AFLD has concluded its re-testing of the 2008 Tour de France samples. Bernhard Kohl was the last to be caught and no other cases have been found, L'Equipe reported.

There were a total of 30 samples re-tested specifically for CERA, after suspicious blood values had been observed.

Bahati paving the way

By Phil Sheehan

Bahati fully concentrates during the race
Photo ©: Mark Zalewski
(Click for larger image)

"No-one likes us, we don't care." For anyone who's not au fait with London soccer clubs, that's the unofficial creed of Millwall FC, a lower league team that punches above its weight in terms of the headlines it's grabbed over the years – mostly negative. That motto could just as well apply to cycling's own Rock Racing. The US-based Continental outfit certainly provoked plenty of column inches, most of them outraged, when its participation in the 2008 Tour of Britain was announced.

Whatever you make of owner Michael Ball's employment of Tyler Hamilton, Oscar Sevilla and Santiago Botero, you can't deny the fact that his team gets noticed. One thing that stood out about the Rock line-up at this year's Tour of Britain, though, was that it included the event's first black rider, Rahsaan Bahati. Some are struck by the lack of racial diversity in the pro peloton. Of course, many know about Marhsall 'Major' Taylor's story over a hundred years ago, but it seems like things haven't moved on a great deal since then.

Taylor, for those unfamiliar with his exploits, was the fastest man on two wheels at the turn of the last century. Dominant on the track, he broke seven world records in one year alone. 1899 may have been a fine year for records in the velodrome, but it wasn't for racial harmony. Despite his ability to draw huge crowds and the invitations he received to race as far afield as Europe and Australia, Taylor was the victim of terrible prejudice and dirty tricks, sometimes even physical violence, from his white peers on the track.

Continue to the full feature

AFLD confirms two non-negatives for Kohl

Bernhard Kohl was confirmed twice, but says he is innocent
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Bernhard Kohl tested non-negative for CERA not once but twice at the Tour de France. Samples taken on July 3, two days before the race started, and July 15, the rest day in Pau, were both positive, the French Anti-Doping Agencyc AFLD has confirmed.

The AFLD added, "The official notification to the athlete was done through the Austrian Anti-doping Agency [NADA Austria]. This means disciplinary proceedings can be taken against the athlete by the French and the Austrian national disciplinary authorities, as the 2008 Tour de France was not included in the UCI's [world cycling's governing body] calendar."

Hans-Michael Holczer, team owner and manager, said no one suspected anything about Kohl. "Nothing was known about it on the team, there were no rumours. That was in no way organised by the team. It just shows how powerless we are.

"With Schumacher it has been said that we knew what kind of a character he is. What should we say now about Kohl?"

Holczer feels betrayed

The 54-year-old told that he felt betrayed by his rider. "I am personally very much hurt and will take the same steps against him as against Schumacher." He had already said that he intended to file suit against Schumacher for damages.

Holczer urged Kohl to confess. "I advised him to name the people behind this. He should tell all and say who is behind it. That way he can do something good for cycling.

"It is time that I leave cycling," Holczer said, in light of Kohl's and Schumacher's positive doping tests. "I don't deserve this after 10 years in the sport."

Kohl's manager, Stefan Matschiner believed in the innocence of his client. He and Kohl "are speechless. Bernhard is undergoing a great injustice. I am convinced that he wouldn't lie to me."

Matschiner said that "We have received a letter from the French Anti-Doping Agency, but we don't have an idea what it says. It is written in Frnech and we must first have it translated," he told "".

Kohl has also been removed as a nominee for the Austrian Athlete of the Year, a title he was expected to win. The list of five names was issued only last week, but his name has now been removed and replaced by an ice hockey player, according to the Sportjournalisten – Vereinigung Sports Media Austria.

The Austrian is the fourth rider to test positive for CERA from the Tour. Leonardo Piepoli and Riccardo Riccò of Team Saunier-Duval were the first. Kohl's Gerolsteiner teammate and Tour roommate Stefan Schumacher was also caught for it.(SW)

Boonen ends season on home soil

Tom Boonen of Quick Step will bring his 2008 campaign to an end today at the Nationale Sluitingprijs - Putte - Kapellen. The traditional Belgian road season closing race runs over 177 kilometres. Boonen will hope for one final win this season in the 1.1 Sluitingprijs.

A sprint win, however, is not a given on this course, even though it is fairly flat. Last year, Floris Goesinnen (Skil-Shimano) won with a gap of 14 seconds before the peloton. Other winners include Nick Nuyens (2003), Gert Steegmans (2005), Geert Omloop (2002) and Steven De Jongh (2000), indicating that it is not necessarily a race for the pure sprinters like Boonen.

The race will start at 12:45. The racers will face a 14.77-kilometre course that they will have to do 12 times.

Ullrich foretells leadership problems at Astana

Jan Ullrich sees troubled ahead for Astana
Photo ©: Olympia Photo
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Jan Ullrich applauded the potential return of Alexander Vinokourov to the peloton, but said he could envision problems at Team Astana, with Alberto Contador, Lance Armstrong and others fighting it out to be team leader.

"I think it is right that 'Vino' comes back, because everyone deserves a second chance," the 34-year-old former rider said to Eurosport. He also believed that it was right for the Kazakh to join Team Astana, because, "after all he helped bring the team to life. Those are his people.

"But I can imagine, that there could be problems within the team," Ullrich continued. "In my eyes, Contador should be the leader. It wouldn't be right to set Armstrong ahead of Contador."

There are also other riders on the team to consider, such as Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Klöden. They must "divide the races up among themselves. They have to work that out internally, otherwise there will be problems."(SW)

Schumacher has more time to ask for B-sample analysis

Stefan Schumacher has a bit more time to ask for his B-sample of his positive doping test to be analysed. The usual five-day period has been doubled for Schumacher and he will have to demand the B-sample analysis with the French Anti-Doping agency (AFLD) directly, rather than through his national federation.

The reason for this change in procedure is the fact that the Tour de France was not held under UCI regulation this year. Therefore, the French rules apply for the doping procedures. AFLD gives athletes who live in a foreign country ten days to ask for the B-sample.

Schumacher had received documents from the French prosecution one week ago, which his lawyer, Michael Lehner, forwarded to the German federation (BDR). After checking with AFLD, the UCI (international cycling union) and NADA (German national anti-doping agency) the BDR will wait before deciding on any further action. "The 2008 Tour de France was not done under UCI regulation, but under French national law. AFLD will forward the results to us after they are done with their investigations," said BDR's Secretary-General Martin Wolf.

Bettini to Amsterdam Six-Days

Paolo Bettini, two-time World Champion and now retired from road racing, will ride the Amsterdam Six Days race later this month. He will partner with Spanish Olympic champion Juan Llaneras.

The race organisers presented the pairings on Monday for the race, which runs October 20-25, sportweek reported. Retiring German rider Erik Zabel will ride with Leif Lampeter, and other pairs will include Danny Stam and Robert Slippens, Leon van Bon and Wim Stroetinga, Peter Schep and Jens Mouris, and Jos and Matthé Pronk.(SW)

Rogge rejects idea of removing cycling from Olympics

International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge has said that he would not support a plan to remove cycling from the Olympic Games. "The position of the IOC Executive Committee is that we support the sports federations," he said.

IOC Vice President Thomas Bach had called for the sport to be temporarily removed from the Olympics in light of the most recent doping problems. Rogge told the dpa press agency that Bach's statement was "his own personal opinion."(SW)

Cavallari next doping case

Stefano Cavallari (Acqua Sapone-Caffè Mokambo) has his A-sample returned non-negative for a prohibited substance, reported today. Cavallari fell foul at a surprise out-of-competition control, conducted by the UCI.

Cavallari has been a professional since 2004. He joined Acqua & Sapone in 2006, after spending one year each at Vini Caldirola (2004) and Barloworld (2005). Cavallari has no wins as a professional. His best result was a third place in the Coppa Agostini in 2005.

Major shakeup in the USAC NRC calendar for 2009

Rory Sutherland won the 2008 NRC title
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

USA Cycling announced its NRC calendar for the 2009 season, with some surprises in the line-up. Popular races no longer part of the season-long series include the Sequioa Classics and Sea Otter. A major boost for the women is the upgrade of the one-day criterium at the Tour of California to a three-day stage race (February 14-16).

The popular Sequioa Classic races have been scratched, which leaves Redlands (March 26-29) as opening the men's side of events. The Garrett Lemire Memorial Grand Prix in Ojai has also been removed from the schedule and is replaced with another California race, the Dana Point Grand Prix of Cycling (April 26). The Sea Otter Classic is gone as well, but decided on its own to not be part of the NRC event in 2009.

The Mount Hood Cycling Classic is going through a face lift. Two stages longer and expanding beyond the Mt. Hood area, it will be named the Oregon Pro Cycling Classic (May 11-17).

Added races include the Tour de Winghaven in St. Louis, Missouri (June 21), the Chicago Criterium (July 26) and the Tour of Elk Grove (July 31- August 3). Two races that have been removed are the Downtown Crit in Armstrong's Austin and the Cox Charities Cycling Classic in Rhode Island.

The final change is the revival of a one-day race in San Francisco, after the San Francisco Grand Prix faded away. The San Francisco Twilight Criterium will be held on September 5.

The series is made up of a total of 34 events, held throughout the continental USA over the entire season. Winners are crowned in male and female individual classifications as well as men's and women's teams.

Cyclingnews online production editor required - Australia

Work on the world's leading cycling web site

Cyclingnews, the world's leading cycling web site, is expanding and is looking for a full time online production editor based in Sydney, Australia.

The position requires applicants to have a keen interest and thorough knowledge of competitive cycling, as well as editorial or writing experience with excellent English skills. The position will involve producing reports, results, photos and features from the world of cycling, so fluency in a second language is also an advantage, as is a familiarity with online production techniques, experience in journalism and attention to detail.

The applicants will need to be self-starters as the position involves regular liaison with production editors in all Cyclingnews offices. As Cyclingnews is a 24/7 daily news operation, the position will require regular weekend work. The weekend duties are handled on a rotating shift basis with other production editors, so the applicant must be flexible in their work schedule. However, the majority of work will be done during normal business hours on week-days.

The online editors will be required to have familiarity with online production applications (a good working knowledge of HTML and Photoshop are important skills) and could also be required to attend major cycling events in each region. However, the primary responsibility is the production of content for publication on the web site. Training in online production techniques can be provided to the right applicant, ability to handle the technical processes involved and an ability to communicate are required.

Please send your CV with a covering letter via e-mail to with "Cyclingnews online editing position - " in the subject line. Deadline for applications is October 15, 2008.

(Additional editorial assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer.)

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