First Edition Cycling News, September 29, 2008
Edited by Sue George
Riis announces new Team Saxo Bank co-sponsor
By Hedwig Kröner in Varese, Italy
The company owned by Bjarne Riis, Riis Cycling, hosted a press conference in the sumptuous 19th century Villa Andrea in Varese on Sunday, to announce the integration of a new main co-sponsor to the Saxo Bank team, Danish software business IT Factory. The new sponsor will back the team as of January 1, 2009, and has signed a deal with the cycling management company for a total of three years. As of next season, the Danish team will thus be called Team Saxo Bank-IT Factory.
Stein Bagger, CEO of IT Factory, was happy the cooperation with Saxo Bank was made possible by Riis' main sponsor. The deal was worked out after the Tour de France. "For us, this means an excellent communication platform to increase global awareness of our company," Bagger said. "Also, we want to create the first web-based anti-doping control system, available to all cyclists and the general public alike, as our special contribution to the sport." (Watch out for a follow-up story on this topic coming up on Cyclingnews.)
To Riis, the new sponsorship meant an additional stability in financing his team. "With Saxo Bank and now also IT Factory, we have established a foundation that will take us a long way into the future," he said. "We now have two strong companies supporting us and a budget enabling us to realize our ambitions."
These included continuing to support the team's main players, Fabian Cancellara and the Schleck brothers, as well as building up young talent. Riis denied having any plans to take on Alberto Contador for the moment. "At this time, we have no interest in signing him," he said. "We have big stars on the team that we are going to stick with. Andy Schleck is the biggest talent in cycling right now, and I am sure that he will be a source of success over the next ten years. One day, he will be on the top spot in Paris [winning the Tour de France - ed.]. I believe very strongly in him."
CSC, which has sponsored the team since 2001, is set to leave its role as title sponsor at the end of 2008. Saxo Bank came onboard as a joint title sponsor in June, just prior to the Tour de France.
No consequences for Schleck - yet
By Hedwig Kröner in Varese, Italy
Inevitably, Bjarne Riis' team's press conference also addressed the subject of Fränk Schleck's alleged 2006 payment to Eufemiano Fuentes' Swiss bank account, revealed by a German newspaper on Friday. Riis commented that Schleck had told him he had "a clear conscience. Fränk said he never doped or used any doping substances or methods. He said he has not compromised the team's or the UCI's code of ethics. He asked us to give him the opportunity to explain himself in front of the Luxembourg anti-doping commission, and we will allow him to do so. After that, he will explain himself to us."
Riis also used the opportunity to try and clear his own name in the light of the allegations of the Süddeutsche Zeitung, according to which Schleck was seen at the apartment of the Operación Puerto doctor in the company of Riis in 2006.
"I can guarantee to a 100 percent that you will never find my name in any of the Puerto documents. I have never had anything to do with that case or with that Spanish doctor. I can guarantee you that," he said.
Still, journalists insisted on the affair, asking if Schleck had denied that he made that payment of approximately 7,000 euros to the bank account. Proof of the transaction is reportedly available to a Luxembourg prosecutor's office. "We did not ask him that question exactly," Riis said. "We haven't had the time yet. Once again, we granted him his wish to explain himself before the anti-doping commission first."
There are thus no consequences for the Saxo Bank rider at the moment. Asked if the team would use the possibility of suspending Schleck, Riis responded, "We will act depending on how this case unfolds. We need clear facts before we can make any decisions." No date was yet announced, though, as to the hearing of Schleck in front of his country's anti-doping commission.
The new sponsor, as well as Saxo Bank, supported Riis' stance. "We will follow the team's rules and decisions with regard to anti-doping," said Kim Fournais, founder and CEO of Saxo Bank. "Unless there is a coordinated effort in the team to cheat - which would be a different story. But there is always the possibility of one or two riders making mistakes. And in that case, we trust Bjarne Riis knows what to do."
Visconti and Grivko to lead Italian-Ukrainian team
By Jean-François Quénet in Varese, Italy
Ukraine will become the third Eastern European country with its own team competing at the highest level of professional cycling after Kazakhstan with the Astana team and Russia with the Katyusha team. A new Ukrainian team, the ISD-Danieli Team, will be based in Tuscany and be led by team manager Angelo Citracca in the 2009 season.
"We've been working from the foundation - our amateur team Neri Lucchini - and we've signed an agreement with the Ukrainian cycling federation for bringing its riders up to the top level of world cycling," Citracca told Cyclingnews in Varese, site of the UCI Road World Championships.
Previously known as the Finauto team, Neri Lucchini has produced excellent riders in the past under the guidance of Luca Scinto. The former super domestique of Michele Bartoli at MG Technogym, ASICS and Mapei has become a successful coach after retiring at the end of 2002. He was a great help to Mario Cipollini, who claimed the World Championship title in Zolder, Belgium.
It's no surprise that a few former pupils of Scinto will be members of the new ISD-Danieli team. The most famous of them is Giovanni Visconti, who was the Italian champion last year and wore the pink jersey for seven days at the Giro d'Italia this year.
"I've always believed in Visconti as the new Bartoli for his racing style at the one day races," Scinto said. The 2005 U23 World Champion in Madrid, Dmytro Grabovsky, will also return with the Italian coach after two years at Quick Step.
Finally, a major acquisition for ISD Danieli will be Andriy Grivko from Milram.
Eleven riders have signed for the team so far, all from Italy or Ukraine: Maxim Belkov (neo pro), Volodymy Dyudya (Milram), Dmytro Grabovsky (Quick Step), Andriy Grivko (Milram), Denys Kostyuk (ISD Sport Donetsk), Yuriy Metlushenko (Amore e Vita), Ruslan Pidgornyy (LPR), Alessandro Proni (Quick Step), Leonardo Scarselli (Quick Step), Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step) and Emmanuele Vona (neo pro). Two big names of Italian cycling are expected to join the team in the coming days, one as a member of the staff and one as a rider.
"It's our intention to make the team grow fast," Citracca said.
McQuaid pleased with peace deal
ProTour changes take effect as of 2011
By Hedwig Kröner in Varese, with additional reporting from Shane Stokes
At the UCI's press conference on Saturday at the world championships in Varese, Pat McQuaid expressed his satisfaction with the peace deal that has been forged between the governing body and the Grand Tour organisers. As previously mentioned on Cyclingnews, Editions Philippe Amaury (EPA, owner of Tour de France organiser ASO), Giro d'Italia owner RCS and Vuelta a España owner Unipublic signed an agreement with the UCI on Thursday, ending the long disputes over the ProTour and other issues.
"Things have been worked out now," said McQuaid. "The agreement has been signed, and the pathway for the future has been laid out.
"We agreed the large part of the agreement back in August, and since then we have been working on the last points. Jean-Claude Killy [former president of ASO - ed.] and the other mediators were involved right until the very end."
The change in the French company's stance was pushed forward by Marie-Odile Amaury, the widow of the deceased Philipppe Amaury, who repaired her company's damaged ties with the UCI via the International Olympic Committee.
McQuaid, who will again be candidate for the UCI presidency election taking place next year, was confident that relations between the three Grand Tour organisers would be rebuilt over the coming months. "It is now a question of working together with the organisers and rebuilding relationships. My desire is that relations with the Tour go back to the way they were a few years ago. I genuinely feel that the people we are dealing with in EPA are sincere, honest, and have the same desires as us."
McQuaid added that he hadn't yet spoken directly with Tour director Christian Prudhomme, having dealt directly with his superiors in the EPA, but expects to do so at the launch of the Tour de France.
Officials at ASO, a company owned by EPA, have not yet responded publicly to the news. While changes at the top management level of ASO have been rumoured to be true for weeks, nothing to date has been made official.
The peace deal also meant that the suspension of the French federation FFC was lifted. Procedures underway against the President of the FFC, Jean Pitallier, and the President of the AIGCP, Eric Boyer and the International Commissaire Joël Ménard at Paris-Nice were also brought to an end, setting things up for a far more relaxed meeting between the UCI and all its federations on Friday.
Read the complete feature.
Meier sticking with Garmin
By Daniel Friebe, Procycling Magazine
The reigning Canadian national road race champion Christian Meier has confirmed that he will be riding for the Garmin-Chipotle team for the next two seasons. After pulling out of the world road race championships at the 210km mark on Sunday, Meier revealed that he has signed for Garmin on a permanent basis. He will thus join his friend and compatriot Svein Tuft, who committed to the US-based team after his second-place in the men's time trial on Thursday.
Meier has been riding for Garmin as a stagiaire since August, impressing the team's directeurs sportif at the Tour of Portugal, in particular. He describes himself as competent all-rounder most at home on the short, often steep climbs typically found in the Ardennes Classics. The 23 year-old from New Brunswick made history this year by becoming the first ever rider from Atlantic Canada to claim the Maple Leaf jersey of national champion.
"I'm pretty excited about it, and about joining the team with Svein. Now I have the Circuit Franco-Belge, maybe Paris-Tours, Giro del Piemonte and the Tour of Lombardy, but I can't wait for next season," Meier said in Varese on Sunday.
The November issue of Procycling Magazine will feature an interview with Meier about his experience riding as a stagiaire for Garmin.
Last race for Crédit Agricole
The Crédit Agricole team will compete in its last race, Paris-Tours, on October 12, according to team manager Roger Legeay. Legeay told the AFP that the squad would be led by William Bonnet and Sebastien Hinault, two of the team's men who were not racing the World Championship this week in Varese, Italy.
Crédit Agricole decided to withdraw its sponsorship of the French team after ten seasons. Many of the squad's riders have already been signed by other teams including Cervelo, Bouygues Telecom, Cofidis, Française des Jeux, AG2R and Katusha, Lampre.
Popovych to retire?
Yaroslav Popovych has decided to leave his Silence-Lotto team and his career as a professional racer according to the Dutch Wieler Revue. The news, still to be confirmed by Popovych and his team, comes just one day after Silence signed Thomas Dekker.
The 28 year-old Popovych hails from Ukraine and has previously ridden for Landbouwkrediet-Colnago and Discovery Channel. He is perhaps best known for helping Lance Armstrong win the 2005 Tour de France with the Discovery team. He has subsequently worked for Alberto Contador and Levi Leipheimer at Discovery Channel, but later moved to Silence-Lotto in 2008, in part to support the Tour de France bid of contender Cadel Evans.
Landis takes case to US federal court
After losing his anti-doping case before the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Floyd Landis took an unusual next step. In US Federal Court, he is challenging the CAS decision to uphold his positive doping test verdict. He and his lawyers are arguing that the arbitrators who heard his case had conflicts of interest, causing his hearing to be unfair.
According to ESPN.com, lawyers filed a motion "to vacate the June arbitrators' award in Landis' appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport" in a Los Angeles US District Court on Thursday.
In the motion, lawyers argued that all three arbitrators on the panel, including the one selected by Landis, ought to have revealed conflicts of interest that may have biased them. The conflicts, as defined by Landis' team, are that the arbitrators were selected from a short list of people who take turns serving in roles such as panellists and lawyers for clients appearing before panels. The switching of roles purportedly influences them to issue rulings that will benefit each other or will help anti-doping agencies with procuring future work and cases.
One of the arbitrators on the Landis case, Richard Young, told ESPN.com, that he followed CAS rules which specify that arbitrators may not be on panels when representing other clients in pending CAS cases.
The motion cited six CAS cases in which athletes faced the International Olympic Committee (IOC) while it was represented by Jan Paulsson, the single arbitrator on Landis' case that was picked by Landis' legal team. In addition to involvement with these other cases, Paulsson's law firm represented London during its ultimately successful bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games - a decision made by the IOC.
"Thus, members of the Freshfields firm, particularly Mr. Paulsson, have a significant economic incentive to espouse positions favorable to the IOC and little interest in embracing positions taken by an athlete with adverse interests," according to the motion.
Landis' motion also asks the court to overturn the US$100,000 fine for legal costs he was ordered to pay by the CAS panel. It argues that the fine was based on "unsworn statements by USADA's lawyer after the close of evidence, denying Mr. Landis a right to respond," and it called the award outside the "scope" of the mandate of the arbitrators. Finally, the motion asks for a jury trial.
Landis won the 2006 Tour de France, but the title was subsequently taken away after he tested positive for testosterone and the American Arbitration Association upheld the decision. Landis received a two-year suspension, which will end January 29, 2009, leaving him free to race most of next season. However, USADA has told Landis he cannot race again until the $100,000 fine is paid. Landis is expected to race with Health Net in 2009.
What remains to be determined is whether the US Federal Court will consider itself to have jurisdiction over the case, which was decided at CAS headquarters in Switzerland.
Cyclingnews' coverage of the Floyd Landis case
29, 2009 - French authorities summon Landis and Baker
New Zealand seeking female talent in push for future medals
BikeNZ is launching the search for more Sarah Ulmers and Alison Shanks. The New Zealand federation put out the call to female athletes including those from a non-cycling background to become part of a talent pool of riders through to the 2012 Olympics in London and beyond.
BikeNZ's Power to the Podium programme is aimed at identifying and selecting female athletes for a development programme. It hopes to at least equal the men's track cycling team achievement of securing two medals at the Beijing Olympics.
High performance director Mark Elliott says BikeNZ wants female athletes from all sports, including current cyclists, who are over the age of 17 to apply. It is keen to hear from those with an endurance background in sports like rowing, running and triathlon.
Elliott says anything is possible for athletes with the right attributes. "Alison Shanks was playing netball four years ago. With just three years cycling experience behind her, she was a contender for an Olympic medal, finishing fourth in Beijing in the 3000 metres individual pursuit."
"This programme provides the opportunity for athletes with the right physiology, desire and talent to become world class track riders," said Elliott
BikeNZ and SPARC are investing in the programme, which will involve a coach, support services for the athletes such as sports science and medicine, training and performance tools, and travel and accommodation for competitions.
SPARC high performance manager Martin Toomey is excited by the initiative. "Talent identification is crucial to ensuring New Zealand has a pool of world class athletes. The Power to the Podium programme will enhance BikeNZ's ability to have a group of talented riders with the potential to win medals in 2012," Toomey said.
Athletes are being invited to apply to BikeNZ until October 1 and can download application forms at www.bikenz.org.nz . Shortlisted athletes will then be tested, with those selected going to a series of training camps. The first of these will be held in Wanganui over October 27-30.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2008)