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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News, September 24, 2008

Edited by Greg Johnson

Basso to return in Japan

By Miwako Sasaki

Ivan Basso has been training hard
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Ivan Basso will return to professional cycling at the Japan Cup on October 26 with Liquigas. Basso's name appeared on the list of teams and riders for the next edition released by the race organiser on Monday.

Basso has been on the cycling sidelines since his confession on May 7, 2007 to attempted doping. The Italian rider confirmed widespread rumour that he was involved in the Spanish doping ring enquiry Operación Puerto, revealing that documents surrounding the case containing the name Birillo where in fact referring to him.

Basso was given a suspension of 24 months by the Italian Cycling Federation (FCI) disciplinary commission in July 2007. The Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes client will be able to resume racing from October 24, 2008.

The rider confessed to his involvement after increasing pressure from Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) anti-doping prosecutor Ettore Torri and mounting evidence against him. Italian outfit Liquigas announced in April it had signed the former Giro d'Italia winner to join its ranks once his suspension had been served.

Four ProTour teams will go to Japan for the event: Bouygues Telecom, Quick Step, Lampre and Liquigas. Damiano Cunego will be one of the star riders making the trip to Japan for the race.

Armstrong to address the world...

Lance Armstrong Photo ©: James Huang
(Click for larger image)

Lance Armstrong will rub shoulders with world leaders this week in New York City, USA, where the rider is expected to announce his 2009 comeback plans later today. Armstrong will make the announcement regarding his "new global effort in the fight against cancer" at the Clinton Global Initiative held at the New York Sheraton today.

CGI is a gathering of world leaders in both political and business landscapes, with the focus to address global challenges such as the fight against cancer. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be among those in attendance at the event.

The former Tour de France champion is then expected to travel to Las Vegas, Nevada where he will address the world's cycling media which are gathered in the gaming capital for the Interbike trade show.

Armstrong announced two weeks ago that he would return to professional cycling to further the global awareness of his charity Livestrong and its role in fighting cancer. The American again made headlines when he teamed up with Max Taam and Len Zanni and won the 12 Hours of Snowmass mountain biking race one week later.

…then contest CrossVegas

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor in Las Vegas

Of the many rumors swirling in recent weeks about Lance Armstrong, one of them has included him racing cyclo-cross events this season - and that rumor appears to have some truth. While the details of his 'official' comeback are not to be released until Wednesday morning when he will announce his 'official' comeback at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York, his manager Mark Higgins confirmed with Cyclingnews that his first race following that announcement will likely be the UCI category 1 Cross Vegas cyclo-cross race held in conjunction with the Interbike trade show in Las Vegas.

"We are going to try to make it," he said. "It will be tight with so many heads of state at the Clinton Global Initiative [event] and then air traffic control as well." While the events are scheduled for the morning New York time (EDT) and the men's Cross Vegas race does not start until 9:00 p.m. (PDT), Armstrong's private plane could be at the mercy of the US air traffic control system.

Even if he does make it to the race on time, having no UCI points from last year will mean he will likely start well back in the grid - in the middle at best.

He also is scheduled to be on the David Letterman show this Friday as well, though Higgins said that was taped Monday and will not conflict with his travel.

Armstrong return would upset Astana apple cart

Alberto Contador (Astana)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Johan Bruyneel's new star Alberto Contador has admitted the return of former favourite Lance Armstrong to the Astana fold could hurt him. While Armstrong never rode for the current Astana squad, he was the major player in Bruyneel's US Postal and Discovery Channel teams, with the latter winding up its involvement at the end of last season.

"I think I've earned the right to be the leader of a team without having to fight for my place," Contador told AS. "And with Armstrong some difficult situations could arise in which the team would put him first and that would hurt me."

While Bruyneel's squad is remaining quiet on any future involvement with Armstrong, until he outlines details on his return to the sport, the team director has admitted it would be hard to imagine the former Tour de France champion returning to the sport with anyone else.

"The team will say nothing before Armstrong explains himself," Astana spokesman Philippe Maertens said.

Lefevere: Bettini could have taken over

Patrick Lefevere
Photo ©:
(Click for larger image)

Quick Step's general manager Patrick Lefevere has said that he offered Paolo Bettini a position within the team's management after retiring from cycling. The Belgian said his star Italian rider had originally planned on retiring at the end of this season.

"But he didn't want it," Lefevere explained. "The plan was for Bettini to retire at the end of 2008 and to step into a management role with the team.

"He would work with me for two years before purchasing my business," he added. "He would then be the general manager from a top team."

Bettini decided this year that he would continue for one more season, but Lefevere was unable to meet his demands for the Italian's salary. Bettini became an Olympic Games champion at Athens in 2004 and has won the last two UCI World Road Championships.

"I am not bitter about it," Lefevere said. "I listened to my head and not my heart, otherwise Paolo would have stayed.

"Now I have four top riders for the price of Bettini: Chavanel, Devolder, Tosatto and Schumacher," he added. "My decision was made quickly."

Brochard wants to come back

By Jean-François Quénet in Varese, Italy

Laurent Brochard (Bouygues Telecom)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
Click for larger image

Despite being 40 years of age, Laurent Brochard has been inspired by the announcement Lance Armstrong will return to professional cycling and now the Frenchman is also tempted to return. Brochard, the last Frenchman to win the World Championship title in 1997 in San Sebastian, Spain, will be watching this weekend's race in Varese, Italy closely as he hasn't lost any of his passion for cycling.

"I haven't stopped for three years," Brochard noted, despite being three years older than Armstrong.

Brochard was forced to quit at the end of last year, after breaking a collarbone. The Tour of Poland accident saw the Frenchman sustain his firs broken bone in a 16 year-long career. Following the accident he wasn't offered a new contract by Bouygues Telecom, the last team he rode for between 2005 and 2007.

"I don't want to enter into any polemics with the team," he told the Ouest-France newspaper, but he's obviously still bitter that he didn't get the chance to continue racing. Until January this year, Brochard had hoped to find a potential employer but none of his discussions resulted in a contract.

Brochard kept doing some sports activities and returned to his first sport: running. He recently completed the 10 kilometre Alençon to Médavy in Normandy in 34.20, despite training only once or twice a week.

"Some directeurs sportifs know that I'm still able to ride, they have my number, they're welcome to call me," he said.

The former professional is so keen to return to cycling, he is rumoured to have contacted team managers himself.

Martinez retires…again

Miguel Martinez has retired from professional cycling for the second time. The French rider is best known for his long time duel with Cadel Evans for the Mountain Bike World Cup in the 1990s.

Martinez, known as 'little Mig', was third in the inaugural Olympic Games MTB Cross Country event in Atlanta, USA. He followed the result up with gold in Sydney, Australia in 2000 and was also the UCI World Mountain Bike Champion in the same year.

He switched to the road in the late 1990s and rode for a number of top professional squads including Mapei, Phonak and most recently Amore e Vita.

Martinez retired for the first time in 2006, but returned this year with Amore e Vita, winning just one stage at the Tour de Beauce.

Rusty Chain Projects call it a day

Symmetrics will close its doors at season's end.
Photo ©: Kurt Jambretz
(Click for larger image)

The management company behind Canadian Continental squad Symmetrics, Rusty Chain Projects Inc, has announced it will not run a squad in 2009. Symmetrics announced it would cease its sponsorship of the team at season's end, however Rusty Chain Projects' Mark and Kevin Cunningham have been unable to find a replacement sponsor, faced with a difficult economic climate in North America.

"We've been searching for a new title sponsor since Christmas," said Kevin. "We've had some positive discussions and some near misses. But at this time we do not have the right partner in place to move forward with the team in 2009.

"We are continuing to search for a new title sponsor in hopes of reactivating the team 2010 and beyond," he added. "We let our riders know during the Tour of Missouri that we wouldn't put the team on the road next year."

In the past five years the team won 12 Canadian National Championships (road and time trial) with a staggering 25 championship medals, won more than 180 races and has been ranked in the top three teams in the UCI America Tour for the past three seasons. This year the team achieved one of its long-term goals of building Olympians-sending Svein Tuft and Zach Bell to the Olympic Games where they each had remarkable seventh place finish.

"We could put the team on the road again next year," Kevin added. "But we wouldn't be moving towards our long-term goals. It's better for us to stop the team while we search for the elusive title sponsor who is the right strategic fit."

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