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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News, February 23, 2009

Edited by Bjorn Haake

Leipheimer and Tour of California are golden

By Laura Weislo in Escondido, California

A happy Levi Leipheimer smiles after his third win in the Tour of California
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

After wrapping up his third win in a row in the Tour of California, American Levi Leipheimer seemed to be giving a press conference about the biggest victory of his career. It certainly may not have been his most prestigious win, but the rider and the race have grown in prominence and popularity over the past four years, and the importance of this year's Tour of California cannot be underestimated.

Leipheimer has stood upon the podium at the end of three Grand Tours (the 2001 and 2008 Vuelta a España, 2007 Tour de France), won the Dauphiné Libéré (2006) and last year earned an Olympic bronze.

His two previous wins in California came with increasing fanfare, but with the return of one Lance Armstrong to the peloton, the attention surrounding the race grew to a fevered pitch, making Leipheimer's triple title headline news. Leipheimer, a California resident, was hard pressed to put the sensation of this year's win into words.

"I've been trying in my head to think about how to articulate and convey the feelings I've got. It's tough. To win it once, that was huge. To win it twice, it was a little bit of a surprise and felt like I was a little lucky. Now I've won it three times - it's the sweetest of the three and it's hard to describe that."

Read the full feature on Leipheimer's win.

Jaksche allegedly named big names

By Susan Westemeyer

Jörg Jaksche allegedly named some names during his 2007 interrogation
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Jörg Jaksche is said to have named names in his interrogation by the German Bundeskriminalamt (federal police) in July 2007, names which include individuals still active in cycling, such as Rudy Pevenage and Bjarne Riis.

In July 2007, Jaksche confessed to having been a customer of Operación Puerto's Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes. According to the German tabloid Bild am Sonntag, the German rider was interrogated on July 25 and 26, 2007, for ten hours each day. This weekend, the publication claimed to have received a copy of the transcript of the interrogations.

He is said to have named his former team manger at then-Team CSC, Bjarne Riis, former Telekom team manager Rudy Pevenage (now with Rock Racing), former Telekom team doctors Andreas Schmid and Lothar Heinrich, and Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, among others.

In addition, Jaksche apparently claimed that he paid Pevenage for doping products in the Vuelta a España 1999. According to Bild, Pevenage gave him EPO every two days. In addition, Pevenage and Heinrich allegedly told him to ride the Tour de Suisse that year without any doping, as police investigations were expected. The tabloid claims that while at Telekom, Jaksche used EPO, growth hormones, Synachten and cortisone.

Jaksche rode for Riis and Team CSC in 2004. During this time, according to Bild, Riis decided who should take how much of what product, with Jaksche saying how he was helped to avoid a positive doping control. Team Saxo Bank did not have a comment on the story.

He also is alleged to have claimed that Claudio Sprenger, who was team doctor at Team Polti for Jaksche's first two pro years, 1997 and 1998, injected him with insulin. Sprenger, who is now team doctor for Team Milram, denied the claim. "It's one man's word against the other. Dr. Sprenger tells us that there is nothing to these charges. We are looking into it," Milram spokesman Max Biermann told cyclingnews.

Jaksche would neither confirm nor deny the statements, telling the dpa press agency that he had not released the information, and that any subsequent investigations had already been closed.

Livestrong Global Cancer Summit in Dublin

Lance Armstrong (Astana) returned to racing in part for his cancer cause
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

The Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF) announced that the premiere Livestrong Global Cancer Summit will take place August 24-26, 2009, in Dublin, Ireland. The Summit follows Lance Armstrong's participation in the Tour of Ireland, from August 19-23. The Summit will address the global cancer burdens and introduce new commitments to controlling cancer by international collaboration by world leaders, corporations, non-governmental organisations and advocates.

LAF founder Armstrong explained the goal of the campaign. "Unless we act on a global level, cancer will be the leading cause of death by 2010. Our goal is to be the catalyst that brings everyone together to fight cancer — from survivors, like me, to world leaders and policymakers who must commit completely to the effort to avoid a public health catastrophe. The Summit provides an invaluable opportunity to stand up for the 28 million cancer survivors worldwide and to create a unified effort to control cancer through new commitments to action," Armstrong said.

In a separate announcement in Dublin, Ireland's Minister for Health, Mary Harney, said Ireland was very pleased to welcome the Summit to Dublin in August. "Cancer Control is a top priority for the Irish Government. The themes of the Summit fit well with our new national Cancer Control Strategy and anti-tobacco initiatives we have taken, such as the ban on smoking in the workplace."

Irish Cancer Society CEO John McCormack said, "We still have a lot to do in the fight against cancer. By 2020, it is estimated there will be more than 40,000 new cases of cancer diagnosed in Ireland. We can and must act to reduce the rate of preventable cancer and this summit gives us the opportunity to increase cancer awareness and take actions which will save lives."

Darach McQuaid, project director for the Tour of Ireland, said, "The massive, positive public reaction to Lance Armstrong's comeback to the sport in Australia in January and California in February indicate that by the time Lance arrives in Ireland next August, the interest levels will be at fever pitch. I am confident that we can provide Lance with a challenging course and via our global broadcast, promote his cancer message in over 140 television markets around the world."

Rudd and Clinton among supporters

Already, world leaders are indicating their intent to send high-level representation and make commitments. Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and former US President Bill Clinton are included in the early list of leaders expressing support. The Livestrong Global Cancer Campaign made immediate progress when it launched in Australia this January with several new commitments to cancer control from the Australian government and NGOs. In addition, conversations are ongoing with the Kingdom of Jordan to announce a substantial new commitment in that country.

"I hope a decade from now we can look back on this campaign and see that there truly is a global cancer movement – one that has adequately funded cancer research, cut the death rate to zero and maximised the amount of prevention and education and advocacy that can be done," said Clinton. "And that it has helped people to live with and overcome cancer with the support they need."

The Livestrong Global Cancer Campaign will head to Mexico in late February and then on to Europe for the Giro d'Italia (May 9-31) and the Tour de France (July 4-26).

De Ketele and Risi win in Hasselt

Belgian Kenny de Ketele and Swiss rider Bruno Risi won the Hasselt Six Days, one lap ahead of four teams. Leon van Bon / Leif Lampater finished second and Tim Mertens / Franco Marvulli rounded out the podium – a podium spot that Australian duo Glenn O'Shea / Leigh Howard only missed by eight points. They came ahead of the Dutch Six Day regulars Danny Stam / Peter Schep.

The race in Hasselt ended on Sunday with De Ketele/Risi taking three wins, in the team elimination, the derny final and the Madison final. The Madsion race is where the pair sealed victory. Trailing in points, De Ketele and Risi would have ended in fifth place overall without the lap gain.

Check out full results and photos here.

Pucinskaite in camp with Dilà-Kuota

Edita Pucinskaite (Lithuania) is getting ready for the season at her team's training camp
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

Edita Pucinskaite has started the training camp with her team Dilà-Kuota in Laigueglia, Italy. The focus on the camp, held from February 22 to March 1, is to prepare for the first races of the season.

Pucinskaite was also able to add several sponsors for her support, with EthicSport, Las Caschi and Sidi. Stronglight and Montalbetti srl are also sponsors for the Lithuanian rider.

Pucinskaite is calm heading into the first part of the season. "I am serene, but also very motivated. Having these companies that believe in me and support me is great encouragement for me to not let up. I want to continue my way that has given me so much satisfaction."

Rapha Condor to South Africa

The Rapha Condor Professional Cycling team gets its season underway in a couple of days time with two races in South Africa, the Tour de Boland and the Giro del Capo. Currently the whole squad is training at the Sol Andalusi resort in Malaga, Spain, where they have spent the last week fine tuning their form.

The riders selected for the South African trip are Kristian House and Chris Newton, who are retained from the 2008 Rapha Condor squad along with four new signings – Simon Richardson, Tom Southam, Darren Lapthorne and Dan Craven. Craven is the current leader of the UCI African Tour and as such will wear the white jersey that symbolises that classification throughout the trip.

With Chris Newton joining the squad having competed at the recent track world cup in Copenhagen and House, Southam and Lapthorne having shown good form on their respective winters in Australia, team manager John Herety expects the team to perform well next week;

"The guys who are riding at Boland and the Giro del Capo have known for some time that this is where their season begins, so they've been preparing with this date in mind and they're definitely in good shape for the race. I think that the squad we're sending to South Africa is a versatile one and we'll be looking to make our presence felt in both races."

McCauley closes in on Lion Foundation National Points Series

New Zealand road cycling champion Gordon McCauley catapulted into reckoning for the Lion Foundation National Points Series after winning the latest round in Hamilton.

McCauley, who won the national road title in nearby Morrinsville recently, cleared out from the breakaway pack eight km from the finish to win the Hamilton Classic, which was part of the Perry Foundation Rev 120 Cycling Festival.

The win elevates McCauley to third in the series with two rounds remaining, which gives him the opportunity to overhaul leader Jeremy Yates.

Former New Zealand representative Toni Bradshaw showed a welcome return to top form to capture the women's race when she led out one km from the finish.

Approximately 2,000 riders participated in the Rev 120 Cycling Festival as individuals and teams. The race started and finished in Hamilton and took in the towns of Cambridge, Matamata and Morrinsville.

McCauley (Avanti Subway) said he was uncertain of success after a slow start in the inclement weather. "It was pretty hard with the strong winds and rain for most of the day. For the first 40 km I did not feel too flash at all," McCauley said. "Gradually, I started to feel better and better and we managed to work our way up to the leaders. I just tried to lift the tempo with eight km to go and no-one came with me."

A group of four riders went clear early and were caught by a second group of four, including McCauley, at the 100km mark. The eight men, with Roman Van Uden (Team Pro Velo) and Mark Langlands (Ultimo Cycling), worked together until McCauley made his winning move.

In the bunch sprint for second, Van Uden finished ahead of Langlands, 27 seconds behind the winner.

Bradshaw strongest

The elite women quickly broke into a lead group of six riders who rode together throughout the 120km journey.

Only teenager Emma Petersen could follow Bradshaw's surge. Bradshaw managed to open a slight gap and decided to push on for the finish, winning in 3:46.36. Petersen continued her strong recent form and ended the day in second, ahead of Jeannie Kuhujak (Star & Garter Tasman).

Bradshaw described the race as a hard effort. "It was basically an individual race with just a few alliances out there today and really tough in those conditions but fun. I decided to give it a go one km from the finish and with 500m left I thought that I could do this, and held on." Bradshaw leaves shortly for Colorado where she will be based for professional team Lipsmacker for the US road season.

Kuhajek's third place is enough for her to move to second place in the series standings, behind fellow Star & Garter rider Serena Sheridan.

Morinsville's Eliot Crowther retains his lead in the under-23 points despite failing to finish today.

The penultimate round of the series is the Graperide in Marlborough on 11 April.

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2009)