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Latest Cycling News for July 16, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones and Shane Stokes

Armstrong wins award, knocks French soccer team

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Lance Armstrong may be in for an interesting reception from French Tour fans following comments made during the opening monologue as the host of the ESPY Awards in the United States. The awards are an annual televised event produced by ESPN and were taped last Wednesday at Hollywood's Kodak Theatre. The Texan won his fourth consecutive male athlete of the year trophy there, and the show is due to be broadcast on Sunday night.

Armstrong made a number of jokes during the introduction, including one which referred to his battle with testicular cancer. "I told the producers I'd give my left nut to host this thing," he said. "Actually, it was my right.”

However another attempt at humour may raise eyebrows. Speaking about the French soccer team, he was quoted by the Los Angeles Daily News as saying: "All their players tested positive ... for being assholes."

Armstrong told the newspaper afterwards that he didn't regard his comments as being offensive. "Well, if they'd live with me and heard me at home, they'd know that was a step down," he said.

Last year Armstrong was accused by the popular French daily L’Equipe of doping during his 1999 Tour win. Speaking on the Larry King Show after the allegations were printed, Armstrong said that while he rejected the charges, he had no problems with the French public.

"I've had great relations with the French people. If I go to a restaurant or...I lived there for four years. I lived in the South of France for four years. I had great friends there. I think it's a great country.”

Armstrong is due to visit this year’s Tour de France in Gap.

Deignan still in limbo

By Shane Stokes

Although he placed a very promising fifth in the European championships and 9th in the under 23 worlds last year, Irish rider Philip Deignan hasn't had much of a 2006 season due to illness. After recovering from a broken collarbone which he had sustained in his first race of the season back on January 31st, the 22 year old struggled to find form and was forced to scratch from the AG2R Prévoyance team for the Giro d'Italia due to a kidney infection. He eventually discovered that he had glandular fever and has had a frustrating wait for it to pass.

"It has taken a lot longer than I thought it would," he told Cyclingnews on Friday. "It just doesn't seem to be improving the moment. I am going out and doing an hour and a half to two hours but there is no power there, no energy. It's hard to go over 30 kilometres an hour.

"I had glandular fever a while back. I kept on riding with it and was really tired, then got the kidney infection. I think it was a combination of a whole load of things. I must have over-did it a little. The last blood test I got done showed that there was a lot of toxins and acid in my blood, which is what you get after glandular fever. I think that is basically what is making me really tired at the moment.

"There is not really much I can do right now…it is just a case of trying to rest and recover. You can't really force it. If you are not able to train there is nothing you can do, really. It is quite frustrating."

Deignan is currently based at the Sean Kelly Cycling Academy in Merchtem, Belgium, and is seeing a specialist near there to try to speed his recovery. "I see him about twice a week and he is giving me some homeopathic stuff to clean out the blood. But there is no real quick cure, it is just time," he said.

Deignan's last real race was Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He started the Route du Sud due simply to the requirement for his team to field the necessary numbers, but ended up withdrawing on the opening stage. He is now running out of time to get fit again before the end of the year.

"Even if I was able to start back training properly in the next couple of weeks, the season will almost be over by the time I get into good shape again," he said. "It has been that long since I have raced. I don't want to call an end to this season yet, but time is running out. It seems to be taking a lot longer than I thought it would to come back from this.

There is one small benefit from his situation, in that Deignan has been able to follow the good showing of his AG2R team this month. "I haven't been able to watch the Tour de France for a few years, but because I am not able to train that much at the moment, I am able to see most of it," he said. "With Calzati winning the stage and Cyril [Dessel] holding yellow, it has been great.

"When the news of Mancebo broke it was hard, because the team had so much hopes on that guy for a podium place. But it was great the way the guys were able to come back from that. Calzati has had an awful lot of bad luck and it is great to see him do well, taking that victory.

" I'm obviously really happy for the team. It motivates me to see my team-mates doing that, you want to be there and be doing the Tour as well."

Deignan has a deal with the team until the end of 2008 and so he has the security of a contract. He's a strong climber and so once he has recovered from his illness, he should have plenty of chances to compete in Grand Tours in the years to come.

A few changes for Tour de Toona

By Mark Zalewski

With the start of the International Tour de Toona little more than a week away, organisers of the race have finalized slight changes to the professional race from previous years. The more significant change will be to the opening time trial course in downtown Altoona. Last year's time trial began and ended in different locations due to construction, but will now be able to return to a more fan-friendly parcours.

The 4.8km course is laid-out like a small circuit race, with many tight turns. "We started on the other side of the Norfolk Southern mainline last year because of the reconstruction of Altoona's 7th Street Bridge," race promoter Rick Geist explained. "This year, with a brand new 7th Street bridge open and carrying traffic across the railroad mainline, we can start and finish at the same place – in the traditional heart of the city, downtown."

The race also features the traditional category races within the race, but with one additional jersey on offer each day. Labelled the 'move-up' category, the jersey will be awarded to the rider who increases his/her placing the most each day.

Call-out for Tour de Pink

The Young Survival Coalition is looking for cyclists to join their all-star lineup for this year's York Tour de Pink presented by Hershey's. Three professional cycling stars - Kristin Armstrong (TEAm Lipton), Mari Holden (T-Mobile ) and former world champion and Olympic silver medalist Dede Barry - have teamed up to ride in the YORK Tour de Pink, a cycling fundraising event benefiting the Young Survival Coalition, the only international network of breast cancer survivors, medical professionals and supporters dedicated to young women affected by breast cancer.

The Young Survival Coalition is searching for one-hundred devoted cyclists join these professionals in a four-day, 220 mile cycling journey from the Hershey's Times Square Store in New York City on Friday, October 6 to Hershey's Chocolate World attraction in Hershey, Pa., on Monday, October 9. All net proceeds from the ride will benefit the YSC's action, advocacy and awareness programs serving young women with breast cancer. Interested cyclists should register today at www.youngsurvival.org/tourdepink .

"We are ecstatic that Kristin, Mari and Dede will be joining us for the YORK Tour de Pink presented by Hershey's," said Young Survival Coalition CEO Michele Przypyszny. "In these three cyclists we have multiple National, World and Olympic Champions. Their participation will not only benefit our team of riders but will increase the visibility of our event and ultimately help us reach even more young women affected by the disease."

Freedman to host women's clinic

Former top women's pro Nicole Freeman will speak at a beginner (category 4) women's clinic to be run on August 6th with Team Fuji/Bolt Brothers.

The clinic will run from 8:30 AM to 5 PM in conjunction with the Hanes Park Criterium, with a break at 2 PM for the Cat 4 women's race. It will cover race strategy, tactics, and bike handling skills. Lunch is provided for clinic participants.

It will be held at at Wiley Middle School, 1400 W. Northwest Blvd, Winston-Salem NC 27104 at 8:30 AM. The Hanes Park Criterium registration desk will be the location to register or pick up paperwork. Registration can be completed online at www.bikereg.com/events/register.asp?eventid=3601 . More information is available at www.capcycling.org/pdfs/Cat4ClinicFlyer.pdf.

Record 1500 teenagers screened in Wales

The search for the next big Welsh stars has progressed well this year, with a new record being set for the number of Welsh Cycling Talent Identification conducted. Sponsored by builders' merchants Robert Price, the tests have taken place in secondary schools across Wales over the past 6 weeks, with the aim of identifying those who could be the next Nicole Cooke or Geraint Thomas.

Chief executive Peter Sommers is very happy with the progress. "Welsh Cycling aims to carry out 1,000 talent identification tests of secondary school pupils across Wales each year," he stated. "Thanks to the wonderful welcome we have had from schools across Wales, the good weather in the last few weeks, and the hard work of our coaches, we estimate that we will have actually tested over 1,500 pupils by the end of the term!"

"This years total is all the more pleasing as we have been concentrating on testing female pupils from the Schools, and the initial feedback from the coaches has been that we may have found talent from all across Wales, from Bangor in the North, down to St Davids in the West, to Pontypool in the East"

Pupils that have shown the promise in the talent tests will now be invited to more scientific tests held by Welsh Cycling. "All selected pupils will now be invited to a specific testing day, when we will once again put them through a series of physical tests, both in the sports science laboratory and in racing situations," explained team talent coach Stuart MacDonald. "This will help us to select those riders with the potential to succeed in the future".

Once identified, the selected riders will be given a place on the Robert Price Wales Talent Team. This will offer coaching and equipment support and thus boost the chances of the riders to succeed in the sport.

Fun day planned for Bailey Park in Wales

A fun day for all the family is being promised at the GSK Routes and Rides in Abergavenny, Wales, on 19th August. Starting and finishing in Bailey Park, there will be three different distances of ride suitable for all levels. These will take place between 10 am and 5 pm, and a festival of activities and entertainment is also promised.

According to the organisers, "the first ride is a beautiful 24 mile route which will be perfect for those of you who like a bit of a challenge, the middle distance GSK route is a lovely family ride that takes in 12 miles of beautiful local scenery and, in case that's not enough, there is also a fun quiz to keep you entertained as you go round. Entry for both the rides is £5 for children, £7 for adults and a £20 family ticket with entry available online or on the day."

The shortest of the rides is known as the Bailey Park Lap Challenge and is aimed at small children and mothers and fathers who don't do much cycling. This essentially is a lap of the park, with participants welcome to do as many of these as they want or are able to do. Full entertainment will follow, including display rides from BMX riders and cycle speedway racing, "so you can watch how the professionals do it."

There will be a bouncy castle, a fairground ride and "Go-Ride" competitions for the children. A Mechanics Pit Stop will enable participants to get their bikes checked over and obtain advice.

More information/online entries are available at www.gskroutesandrides.com or www.everydaycycling.co.uk.

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