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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News, September 25, 2008

Edited by Sue George

Armstrong plays down Tour chances

By Laura Weislo

Lance Armstrong in Leadville, Colorado in August
Photo ©: Rob O'Dea
(Click for larger image)

Lance Armstrong officially heralded his return to cycling with the Astana team on Wednesday during the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York City. Armstrong reiterated that he is coming back to the sport to help further his foundation's Global Cancer Initiative. After his initial announcement, where he said he would try to win his eighth Tour de France, Armstrong was decidedly low-key about his chances of succeeding.

"I've been off the bike for three years and next summer it will be almost four years. With that is also the fact that I'll be almost 38 years old at the start of the 2009 Tour, so I don't know," he said about his chances. "I will try and be as prepared as possible. I don't know if that equals victory."

Sharing the stage with world leaders, former U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush, and New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, Armstrong outlined the need to have countries around the world devoting more resources to cancer treatment and prevention. He said that he decided to make a comeback after the Lance Armstrong Foundation's research revealed the scope of the cancer problem, and solidified his plans only after racing in the Leadville 100 in Colorado in early August.

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"Cancer kills eight million people per year. That's 22,000 per day - more than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. We felt that by racing the bike all over the world, beginning in Australia, ending in France, it's the best way to promote this initiative," Armstrong said. He confirmed that he would commence his season at the Tour Down Under in Australia and plans to race the Tour de France and return to the Leadville 100.

Armstrong also confirmed that he would re-join his former boss Johan Bruyneel at the Astana team. "We looked at other teams and talked to other teams, but as a friend and a partner with Bruyneel, I couldn't imagine racing against him or without him."

His return to the squad reportedly caused some conflict within the team, as Alberto Contador, the 2007 Tour de France, 2008 Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España champion, was reluctant to give up the role of team leader. Armstrong played down his previously stated ambitions to win an eighth Tour de France, and said his main priority is this global campaign.

"I think there's room for all of us on that team," Armstrong said. "As he just proved at the Vuelta, Alberto is the best rider on the planet right now. We have to respect that. I'm not sure I can ride that fast anymore," Armstrong quipped. "I hope it works out. If he has other offers and he wants to go somewhere else or go to a Spanish team, perhaps, that's his decision, but I would encourage him to give this situation an opportunity and I would look forward to racing with him."

TdU, TdF and Leadville

Johan Bruyneel will continue to be the man behind Lance Armstrong
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Armstrong did not expand on his racing programme, but said that his participation in any race would be tied to that country's cancer initiatives. "The itinerary has to fit into the itinerary of preparing for the tour," Armstrong explained. "I don't think we would go somewhere if they weren't actively involved in trying to make a difference in their country with regards to this disease."

He hinted that he would like to race in the Tour of Italy. "I would love to do the Giro, it's the 100th anniversary [next year], and it's a significant event," he said, adding that he could use his participation to encourage Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi to implement more cancer programmes. Team Astana said in a statement Wednesday that Bruyneel and Armstrong will meet in the next few weeks to discuss his 2009 schedule in detail.

Behind Armstrong during the conference was anti-doping expert Dr. Don Catlin, M.D, the founder of the UCLA anti-doping laboratory and now CEO of Anti-Doping Research, Inc. Armstrong announced that he would subject himself to "the most advanced anti-doping programme in the world" under Catlin, and that he would make himself available for testing "whenever and wherever" in order to validate his performances.

"Beyond today, I'm not going to tell you how clean I am and I'm not going to insinuate how dirty the others are, I'm going to ride my bike and I'm going to spread this message around the world and Don Catlin can tell you if I am clean or not," he said.

"I don't know if I can perform well," Armstrong said, "but on the off chance I can perform well, Don Catlin will be impartial administrator of the anti-doping testing."

Astana has previously used the services of Dr. Rasmus Damsgaard for its anti-doping testing. Team spokesman Philippe Maertens confirmed to Cyclingnews that the team would continue to use Damsgaard for the rest of the team, but that Armstrong's testing would be in addition to the squad's testing regime as well as the UCI's biological passport programme.

Armstrong revealed that he would make all of his test data available to the public.

"I've made myself completely available to everybody - whatever he gets, it will appear online and you can all analyse it."

Armstrong to support development team

By Laura Weislo

Young talent Taylor Phinney at the Olympic Games
Photo ©: Casey Gibson
(Click for larger image)

During his press conference in New York on Wednesday, Lance Armstrong announced that he would be supporting an Under 23 racing team, which would be built around the 18 year-old Taylor Phinney, son of former champions Davis and Connie Carpenter Phinney. The team will be directed by Armstrong's former US Postal teammate Axel Merckx and sponsored by Trek.

"Taylor is the future of American cycling. This is what the sport needs. It's one thing to have a pro team and try to win big events, but as a bike shop owner, I think it is critical that we develop young riders," Armstrong said.

While racing for the Slipstream (now Garmin-Chipotle) under former Armstrong teammate Jonathan Vaughters, Phinney won the junior world championship title in the individual pursuit this year, and was also the US pursuit champion and junior world time trial champion in 2007. He took seventh at the Olympic Games in the pursuit.

Vaughters told Cyclingnews that he knew about Phinney's plans, but hadn't yet spoken with the rider about the change. "Losing Phinney is a bummer from a publicity standpoint," Vaughters said, "but from a performance standpoint it won't have too much impact on the team. We have a very talented group of riders - Peter Stetina wore the yellow jersey in the Tour de l'Avenir - that hasn't happened since Floyd Landis - and he just took sixth at the U23 worlds time trial."

He wasn't afraid that a team run by Armstrong would have a negative effect on his own developmental squad. "If you look at the history of our programme, 80 per cent of the US riders who have started racing professionally in Europe in the past few years have come through our team."

"It's nice to see Lance mimicking us - imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so they say."

Vaughters was confident that Armstrong would make the new team successful, even if he is starting out rather late in the year with the concept. "Lance has a lot of influence, and you can solve a lot of problems with the right funding. And he doesn't organise things shoddily, so if anyone can do it, it's Lance."

McGee to retire and become a director

By Jean-François Quénet in Varese, Italy

Bradley McGee at the 2008 Olympic Games
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

Bradley McGee will make his final race appearance at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour from October 12 to 18. The 32 year-old Australian will call his racing career quits, but he will remain in cycling in a role of sports director for the team for which he currently rides, Team CSC-Saxo Bank, which will be renamed Saxo Bank next season. He'll replace compatriot Scott Sunderland, who has moved to the new Cervélo Test team.

A junior world champion and world record holder for individual pursuit, the Sydneysider built his fame as a track rider and collected his first Olympic medal in Atlanta in 1996 - a bronze in the individual pursuit - a performance he repeated four years later at home despite breaking a collarbone 17 days earlier. He claimed Olympic gold in the team pursuit in Athens in 2004. Australia's fourth place in Beijing meant the first Games without a medal for McGee, who didn't reach his full competitiveness after another bad crash and another broken collarbone in stage 3 of the Giro d'Italia this year.

Under the colours of Française des Jeux, the team he joined in 1998, McGee won the prologues of the three Grand Tours (France in 2003, Italy in 2004, Spain in 2005). As much as helping his young compatriots to turn professional, among which are Baden Cooke, Mark Renshaw and Chris Sutton, he'll be remembered for his strong position against drugs in sport. He'll take part in one last race in Europe, the Circuit Franco-Belge next week before stepping into his new role.

Verbruggen steps down from UCI vice presidency

Hein Verbruggen (file photo)
Photo: © Mark Gunter
Click for larger image

The UCI confirmed on Wednesday that Vice President Hein Verbruggen was stepping down after three years in the role. He has held the post since shortly after Pat McQuaid took over from him as President. Verbruggen also resigned his position with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in the final days of the Beijing Olympic Games.

Verbruggen will retain the title of UCI Honorary President; however, the 67 year-old Dutchman said he is looking forward to having time to read and study history. He served as the UCI's President from 1991 to 2005.

Commenting on the ongoing rancor between the UCI and the Amaury Sport Organization (ASO), the organisers of the Tour de France, he told the AFP, "It is a clear we are at a low point. There is much work to do, starting with an agreement." He gave a glimmer of hope though by saying that the disputing parties were close to an agreement, with the ProTour continuing and organisers retaining TV rights. Verbruggen started the ProTour near the end of his tenure as President.

Verbruggen gave his opinion about the prevalence of doping in cycling. "The problem of doping is not greater in cycling than in other sports. But unfortunately we have this image and the image is often more important than the facts."

Finally, he denied rumors that he and Lance Armstrong would combine their resources to buy the company which owns the Tour de France, although he reacted positively to Armstrong's return to racing and likely eighth attempt at winning the Tour de France.

He noted that others might not be as supportive of Armstrong's comeback. "He has a lot of charisma and is popular in a lot of countries. There are some who will welcome his comeback a lot more than others," said Verbruggen to the AFP.

Martin hit by car

Tony Martin (Columbia)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Germany's Tony Martin was hit by a car while training Wednesday in Varese. The 23-year-old is scheduled to ride Thursday's time trial. While out training, he was hit by a car which ignored its right-of-way at a traffic circle.

The Team Columbia rider was not injured, but his bike was destroyed.

Since he does not have a replacement bike, Martin will ride the bike of German U23 racer Patrick Gretsch, who on Tuesday won silver with the bike.

Future Lampre cyclists ready for worlds

Team Lampre's two new Ukranian recruits for the 2009 season, Volodymyr Zagorodniy and Vitaliy Buts, are ready for the World Championship races in Varese, Italy, later this week.

Zagorodniy will compete in the elite men's road race on Sunday. Known as a good climber, who turned pro in 2007, the 27-year-old has three victories to his name thus far: the Ukrainian Championship in 2007, the time trial stage of Riva del Garda in the Giro del Trentino 2008 and one stage in the Qinghai Lake Tour this year. Zagorodniy will make the move from another Italian squad, NGC Medical-OTC.

Buts first caught the attention of his patron Galbusera in 2006 when he won the Trofeo Lampre U23 race. The 22 year-old is known as a fast rider with good endurance. In 2007 he won the GP Agostano, Circuito Guazzorese, Circuito Pievese and Circuito Mezzanese, while in 2008, he collected six victories, with the most important at the Giro delle Regioni. Buts will be transferring from the Pagnoncelli NGC Perrel team but will first compete in the U23 road race at the worlds.

Ignatiev and Kiryienka prepared for worlds time trial

Tinkoff's Mikhail Ignatiev and Vasil Kiryienka, representing Russia and Belarus respectively, will challenge the elite men's field in the World Championship time trial scheduled for Thursday in Varese.

Also flying the flag for Tinkoff in Varese are Nikita Eskov and Evgueni Petrov who will be riding for Russia during the road race on Sunday. Dimitri Konishev, Sports Director for Tinkoff Credit Systems, and Technical Director for the Russian National team said of the upcoming time trial, "We are ambitiously looking forward to the performances of Kiryienka and Ignatiev in the time trial tomorrow. They are both in good physical condition, and have prepared for this event. We have the objective of at least one medal at Varese, and have faith in the riders that our goal will be achieved."

Momentum Cycling Team changes ownership and name

Momentuum Cycling Team, a professional UCI track team based in Los Angeles, has been sold to a new owner, Robin Horwitz, who doubles as a track supervisor at the Hellyer Velodrome and the owner of ASL Bridge Interpreting Services and, a company that coordinates cycling camps, clinics and racing events.

In addition to a new owner, Momentum will also have a new name, Hawk Relay Cycling Team, to reflect sponsor support. Hawk Relay provides relay services to the deaf and hearing impaired communities in addition to providing video access for people with sign language skills.

"Today is a terrific day for the team and for USA cycling as it sets its sight on the 2012 London Olympics. The team is committed to developing our current team and future stars for the 2012 Olympics and beyond," said Horwitz.

Currently the team consists of American sprinter Adam Duvendeck, Commonwealth Games bronze medalist Travis Smith, Women's Keirin World Champion Jennie Reed and eight-time world cup medallist Josiah Ng. The team also supports a development squad including Jimmy Watkins, Jessie Marans and promising junior rider out of Orange County, California. A masters team, with roster, will be announced going forward.

The team will appear at the World Cup race in Cali, Colombia, as well as other World Cup and domestic races throughout the 2008-2009 season

The team was previously owned by Dr. Howard Marans, who will remain on staff as an Assistant Team Director.

Foundation established in memory of Irish cyclist

By Tommy Lamb

The David McCall Cycling Foundation was launched this week in memory of Davy McCall, a 46 year-old former Irish international cycling star who was killed tragically last month in a club road race outside Belfast.

The Foundation has been established by McCall's club Marland Wheelers in conjunction with Cycling Ulster and the McCall family. Money raised will be used to support cycling in Ulster as a tribute to the contribution made to cycling by McCall during his life.

A native of Lisburn in County Antrim, McCall was a character in the sport of cycling. He represented Ireland at internationally on numerous occasions between 1985 and 1990 and competed in the Commonwealth Games on three occasions for Northern Ireland -1986,1990 and 1998.

Over a period of 18 years he amassed 32 Irish and Ulster championship medals at road disciplines and held a top category elite licence for 22 consecutive years until he joined the veterans' ranks in 2002. Ironically, he was killed whist preparing for the All Ireland Veterans RR Championship which took place just a few weeks ago. When he retired from international competition, he continued to work on behalf of the sport. As secretary of Cycling Ulster and a long time member, he worked toward the unification of the sport in Ireland and also served as a commissaire and top level coach.

In recent years he established the Sportactive company, which organises cycling and training holidays in Majorca and France. Sean Kelly was a regular leader on many of these trips.

Former Deputy Mayor of Ballymena Clifford Davidson, now resident in Scotland, started the donations with a cheque for £500 and this was matched a few days later by Cycling Ireland. Local Derry based club Roe Valley CC have promised a further £350 and Cycling Ulster will meet this week to decide on their contribution. Maryland Wheelers intend to organise an annual Sportive to help the cause and will also organise an annual criterium in McCall's memory in his native Lisburn.

Donations may be sent to David McCall Cycling Foundation, C/O 5 Kenilworth Drive, Lisburn , Co Antrim, BT28 3UQ.

(Additional editorial assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer.)

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