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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News, April 30, 2009

Edited by Sue George

Rebellin: "I did not take anything"

By Gregor Brown

Davide Rebellin recently won La Flèche Wallonne
Photo ©: ISPA
(Click for larger image)
Davide Rebellin faces a legal battle following his summons by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) Wednesday based on a positive anti-doping control at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) retested the samples taken last fall and found the 37-year-old Italian had the blood booster Erythropoietin (EPO) CERA in his system.

"My conscience is clear, I did not take anything," he told television reporters. "I will continue forward with all of my strength to demonstrate my innocence with respect to these charges."

Rebellin will have a chance to explain himself in Rome on May 4 at 12:00, the date and time of his hearing with the Italian Olympic Committee. The committee also prohibited the winner of last week's Flèche Wallonne from competing effective immediately.

Rebellin became professional in 1992 and raced with trade team Gerolsteiner during time including the 2008 Olympics. Over the off-season, he switched to Gianni Savio's Diquigiovanni team. Savio planned to take Rebellin to the Giro d'Italia to fight for the classification leader's maglia rosa in the opening days, but he temporarily suspended the rider from the team.

"It is a huge loss for us on a sporting level, for the Giro, but it is also big moral blow. Something seems strange," said Savio to Cyclingnews.

Savio spoke Wednesday morning to Rebellin, who was at his home in Monte Carlo. He was preparing to leave for Verona, Italy, to speak with his lawyer.

"It seemed impossible that he could have committed an error like this. He is well respected, has high standards and knows clearly that doping is not only a sporting offence, but also a criminal offense."

Savio explained that Rebellin plans to will wait for the counter-analysis of his B sample, to be performed on May 28.

Rebellin and German Stefan Schumacher are two of six athletes who tested positive for Erythropoietin (the other four are believed to be non-cyclists). Rebellin finished second in the men's Olympic road race behind Spaniard Samuel Sánchez.

Philadelphia race a go

Bird's eye view at the start of the Manayunk wall
Photo ©: Marco Quezada
(Click for larger image)

The Philadelphia International Cycling Championship got a last minute reprieve from the chopping block on Wednesday thanks to two sponsors who have committed enough funding that organiser Pro Cycling Tour (PCT) felt comfortable going forward with the event. The race was in jeopardy due to a US$500,000 budget shortfall.

"We are pleased to report that today we secured enough new sponsorship funding to produce the race as planned, and will announce the event's new partners next week," said Dave Chauner, president of Pro Cycling Tour on the organization's website.

This year will be the 25th edition of the race which had been the men's US Professional Championships through 2005. While the championship was moved to Greenville, South Carolina, in 2006, the race continues to be an important part of the North American schedule. It is one of only four UCI-ranked one-day races in the United States. The women's Liberty Classic, which takes place simultaneously on the same course is the only women's UCI-categorized race in the US.

Race co-founders Chauner and Jerry Casale scrambled to meet a self-imposed deadline to secure funding this week. Chauner explained to KYW radio that the organisation set the deadline for this past Monday because it needed to arrange contracts with vendors, vehicles, tents, and catering, and racers needed to make travel arrangements for the event.

"The new sponsors are providing enough to ensure we cover the City's cost requirements, prize money and other budget items critical to running the race," said Casale, Chief Operating Officer of Pro Cycling Tour. "But we still need to sell more tickets and merchandise to break even."

The organisers had extended their deadline on Monday after a potential sponsor requested 24 hours to consider a deal. They still face a funding gap and are planning to use sale of VIP tickets to make up the deficit.

PCT last week launched a grassroots effort to raise funds called "Embrace the Race", which aimed to fill the budget gap through the sale of VIP tickets to the event. The campaign raised $100,000 as of last week, but an additional sponsor was needed to assure that the race could go forward.

To contribute, visit or visit for complete event information.

Shock at Schumacher's Olympic positive

Stefan Schumacher
Photo ©: Elmar Krings
(Click for larger image)
Michael Lehner has represented many cyclists accused of doping, but even he was taken aback by the news of Stefan Schumacher's positive test for CERA at the Beijing Olympics. "I had to really swallow hard, when I heard that," he said of his client, according to the dpa press agency.

Lehner has represented Schumacher in various doping cases, with the most recent being his two positive tests for CERA during the 2008 Tour de France. Schumacher, who has consistently denied ever having doped, is currently appealing his suspension through January 2011 on those charges.

Lehner wasn't the only one surprised by the news. "I am shocked and personally very disappointed," said German Olympic Committee General Director Michael Vesper. "What Stefan Schumacher did there was a deviousness that can't be topped."

Considering the German rider's past, Vesper acknowledged, "When we nominated him we had a bad feeling, which unfortunately has turned out to be right."

Schumacher's former team manager, Hans-Michael Holczer of Team Gerolsteiner, who was also the coach of the German Olympic road team, was already reeling from news that former Gerolsteiner rider Davide Rebellin has also tested positive for CERA at the Olympics. Upon hearing the news about Schumacher, he said, "I can't think of anything to say."

Schumacher first tested positive for an amphetamine in 2005, but the charges were eventually dismissed. His "irregular blood values" at the 2007 World Championships were explained to be the result of diarrhea. After celebrating his third-place finish in the World's road race, he was caught for drunk driving and later shown to have traces of amphetamines in his blood – neither of which is illegal under sporting law in out-of-competition controls.

See also Stefan Schumacher's "up-and-down" career.

Serrano wins snow-shortened Romandie stage

Ricardo Serrano Gonzalez (Fuji - Servetto)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)
Snow in the mountains caused organizers to delay and shorten stage one of the Tour de Romandie from 176.2km to 87km., but that didn't stop Spaniard Richard Serrano (Fuji) from winning on a cold and rainy day. He escaped after 22km with Lars Ytting Bak (Saxo Bank) and Gregory Rast (Astana).

"I'm truly delighted. If anyone had told me in the morning that I'd end up winning, I wouldn't have believed it," said an elated Serrano.

"I have lost so many victories by rushing into the finish too early, so I tried to stay confident, even after my radio broke, and I was not able to hear my team manager Stefano Zanini's orders. I didn't know it, but I was following all the instructions he was telling me."

Bak accelerated first with 500m to go. Rast closed the gap, and then Serrano came around. The win brought an end to two seasons of injury and crashes that kept Serrano from achieving his goals.

"This is the reward for my combative attitude as I've never been a rider to sit in and do nothing. Winning in a ProTour race gives me confidence, because it means I'm back at the top."

With his third place, three-time Swiss road champion Rast became the new leader in the race, and he said he would attempt to defend his lead.

"It will be difficult to keep it, but you never know. Two years ago I won the Tour of Luxembourg, which is a hard race as well. However, the mountains here are much harder plus there is the team time trial and the differences in the top of the GC are small."

Rast was happy with his race after a crash earlier in the season at the Tour of Flanders brought an end to Rast's plans for the Classics season.

Stage 2 on Thursday will lead riders in a loop around La Chaux-de-Fonds, with four categorized climbs in the final 60km.

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of stage 1 of the Tour of Romandie.

Van Bon Joins Rás Lineup

By Shane Stokes

Leon Van Bon was riding on home turf
Photo ©: Peter Cossins
(Click for larger image)
Double Tour de France stage winner and world road race championship bronze medallist Leon Van Bon has been confirmed as leading the Chinese-registered Trek Marco Polo team in the FBD Insurance Rás, which begins in Kilcullen in less than three weeks time.

The 37-year-old Dutchman has had a strong career, taking stages in the Tours of Spain, Switzerland and Germany, placing fourth in both the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix Classics and netting a silver medallist in the 1992 Olympic points race. He is now racing with the Chinese-registered Continental team and, apart from getting results, has the goal of guiding the developing riders.

"We will bring a pretty complete team to the Ras, with fast finishers and climbers, experience and talent," said team manager Gudo Kramer.

 "The mission of our team is to help riders develop, prove their abilities and move up. The main goal in the FBD Insurance RÁS will be to learn and gain experience, but this is only valuable if we can compete to win. We'll aim for stages, side classifications, even the general classification – we'll take it as it comes."

Van Bon will be joined by the Briton James Spragg, Dutchman Eric van de Meent, plus South Africans Jacques Janse van Rensburg and Jaco Venter. The latter has been in good form this year, winning the elite South African time trial championships and taking top ten placings on each stage of the Grand Prix of Portugal plus fifth overall. The others are also strong riders and will add firepower to what is already an impressive FBD Rás lineup.

Van Bon will join another former Tour de France stage winner in the 2.2-ranked Irish event. Jaan Kirsipuu has already been confirmed as leading the Norway Giant Veolia team for the eight-day Irish race, which begins on May 17th. The Estonian won a total of four stages in the Tour de France, and also held the yellow jersey for six days in 1999.

German ProTour-Team goes into first German race with big ambitions

Linus Gerdemann (Team Milram)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Team Milram is going to the start of the Eschborn-Frankfurt City Loop on May 1 with big ambitions. The traditional one-day race over 190.8 kilometers through the Frankfurt area has a new name and a slightly altered course, but these aren't damping the hopes of the Dortmund-based team as it looks for success in its first race of the year in Germany,

Led by its two captains, Linus Gerdemann and Gerald Ciolek, the team will also look to Fabian Wegmann, Christian Knees, Johannes Fröhlinger, Matthias Russ, Peter Velits and Peter Wrolich for a win.

"Our goal is clear:  We want to be as successful as possible in this race," said Gerdemann.  "This race is our top priority. It is our first chance this year to present ourselves to the German fans in our homeland.  I think that the fans deserve a top performance from all of us."

In order to be as fully prepared for the German race as possible, the two Milram captains, along with all-arounder Christian Knees, who is riding well this season, inspected the decisive portions of the course on Monday.  "The course hasn't changed a lot, and is good for us.  The finish is slightly climbing and, depending on the race situation, could be something for me," said Ciolek.

The Eschborn-Frankfurt City Loop is the follow-up race to Rund um den Henninger Turm, and is one of the most important German one-day races.  The record holder in the traditional race is ex-Milra rider Erik Zabel, who won in 1999, 2002, and 2005.  Six other Germans have won the race, which has been carried out since 1962:  Hennes Junkermann (1963), Rudi Altig (1970), Gregor Braun (1978), Olaf Ludwig (1994), Kai Hundertmarck (2000) and Patrik Sinkewitz (2007).

Ullrich Swiss case at standstill

By Susan Westemeyer

The Swiss federation's investigation of Jan Ullrich and his connection with Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes remains at a standstill. Bernhard Welten, head of the Swiss Olympic anti-doping committee, denied reports that the case concerning Jan Ullrich has moved along.

"There were no actions yet in the Ullrich case, "Welten told Cyclingnews.

Ullrich, a German who moved to Switzerland in 2003, retired in 2007. DNA testing linked him to blood bags taken into custody during the 2006 Operación Puerto raids in Spain.

(Additional editorial assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer.)

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