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Latest Cycling News for June 22, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Lance, with or without you

An open letter from Johan Bruyneel
Sports Manager, Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team

Thursday, June 22, 2006 Madrid, Spain

Greetings to Cyclingnews readers... We all know that recently there have been some unpleasant happenings in the sport of cycling. But as the 2006 Tour de France gets ready to start, I want to take a moment of your time to talk about the sport that I love, a sport where there are lot of very positive things, and where I see the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team headed.

But before we look to the future, I want to look a little at the past.

When we started in 1999 as the United States Postal Service Team with Lance we had a dream, a vision - a crazy one by some people's thoughts: to win the biggest bike race in the world, the Tour de France, and to focus our efforts on a rider who was just coming back from a very difficult fight against cancer! But we were very dedicated and committed to this goal, in fact we were thrilled to commit ourselves to something as extremely ambitious as this. We had the desire to not leave anything undone and we were extremely passionate.

And just like many new ventures we were inexperienced in the specifics of the task but we were so highly motivated we didn't really care about our lack of experience; we simply had the conviction to succeed! We had no fear of failure, in fact we liked the challenge, and yes we knew that it was a bit of a crazy challenge but we decided to go for it, and we went for it 100% - the only way really that Lance and I know how to do something.

As I looked back on 1999 I realized we had created an experimental formula, and it worked... we won! And over the years we've fine-tuned and repeated this same formula with some amazing results: seven consecutive Tours de France victories as well as championships in the Vuelta España and the Giro d'Italia.

To read the full letter, click here.

Waiting for the UCI: Leblanc

Jean-Marie Leblanc (L) at the 2006 Tour de France presentation
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Click for larger image

Tour de France director Jean-Marie Leblanc is still waiting for the UCI Licenses Commission to make its decision concerning the ProTour license of the Spanish Würth team. In the wake of 'Operacion Puerto', and with only nine days to go before the start of the Grand Tour in Strasbourg on July 1, race organiser ASO still does not know whether the squad formerly led by Manolo Saiz will be able to participate.

"What can I do?," Leblanc asked Belgian Sportwereld. "I have to respect the ProTour rules. But even if the decision is taken after the start of the Tour, we can still intervene. If the Würth team does not get a license, we can always send the team home then. The same applies to riders from other teams, should their names come up in the investigation."

The Tour de France management is thus continuing its zero tolerance policy concerning riders who are under doping charges, but Leblanc knows that his actions rely on legal facts which are beyond his control. "I count on the fair play of the team directors to leave those riders at home who are concerned in the investigation," he continued. "I also hope that the Spanish judiciary will reveal the whole extent of the Fuentes affair fast. Fellow organisers in Spain told me that the case has already weakened a lot. However, we won't decide anything until it is officially announced. I don't want to do as in 2004, when I excluded Di Luca and the Italian was never convicted."

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'

May 18, 2009 - Valverde to start Catalunya
May 15, 2009 - Valverde not welcome in Denmark
May 14, 2009 - Spanish federation wants proof in Valverde case
May 13, 2009 - Spanish Olympic Committee defends Valverde
May 12, 2009 - Valverde responds to sanction
May 11, 2009 - Italian tribunal delivers Valverde two-year suspension
May 8, 2009 - Valverde case: Italian Olympic Committee defends Torri
May 7, 2009 - Valverde to take legal action against CONI prosecutor
May 5, 2009 - WADA and Spanish federation join CONI and UCI on Valverde
May 1, 2009 - International Cycling Union joins in on Valverde's hearing in Italy

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of Operación Puerto

Rabobank under pressure

Dutch team Rabobank is going to the Tour de France with a strong squad on paper: Dutchmen Michael Boogerd, Erik Dekker, Thomas Dekker, Joost Posthuma and Pieter Weening; Juan Antonio Flecha and Oscar Freire (Spain), Denis Menchov (Russia) and Michael Rasmussen (Denmark). It should thus do well, especially as the 'Rabo renners' include several experienced Tour de France stage winners and Rasmussen won the Polkadot jersey last year, but team manager Theo de Rooij said his riders are under a lot of pressure to perform.

"If we don't deliver in the Tour, there will be a storm," De Rooij told the Telegraaf. Rabobank has not won a stage in the Giro d'Italia, and except for the wins in the Dauphiné Libéré and the Tour de Suisse, has not yet shown all of its potential this first part of the season. But the team manager doesn't agree with the press all the way. "It wasn't that bad," he continued. "There is surely no talk of panic. If you look at the past, there is not that much difference with the last few years. We have never won a stage in the Giro d'Italia or in Romandie. The victory of Denis Menchov at the Mont Ventoux in the Dauphiné was a first for Rabobank in that race. If you look at the classics, we were there, too. Only three teams took the victories."

Mauricio Ardila, Rabobank's leader at the Giro d'Italia, impressed only for a certainly unexpected bad performance. "We are still looking for the reason of his bad riding," said De Rooij, adding that there was "nothing wrong" with the motivation of the riders. "We also have twelve riders whose contracts run out at the end of the year. They know that their new contracts depend on their performances. Maybe we didn't score that much, but during the Flemish campaign, our problem was that six or seven crucial riders were injured - you do notice that."

Looking forward to the Tour, the Dutchman was confident. "Our line-up is much better than last year," he added. "Then, Menchov lost out in the Dauphiné, and Freire was injured at home. Now, these leaders have won races in their preparation. And other guys also show increasing form. Of course, it will be the month of truth."

Valverde and Gutiérrez lead candidacy in Spain

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Last time, at 'home', in Murcia, Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) lost a unique opportunity to win in the Spanish championships. In Móstoles, next to Madrid, this Sunday morning, Valverde wants to settle that debt, and hopes to go to the Tour de France as the Spanish champion. Because of the foreseeable outcome of the 228 km race to a sprint finish, the Caisse d'Epargne rider leads the list to beat the rest of the favourites, such as Angel Vicioso (Würth), Angel Edo (Andalucia), Martin Perdiguero (Phonak) or Francisco Ventoso (Saunier Duval). The participation of Oscar Freire (Rabobank) is in doubt.

Gutiérrez to defend

The Time Trial Championships will already take place on Friday, June 23. The three times champion José Iván Gutiérrez (Caisse d'Epargne Illes Balears) looks like a hard man to beat, but his rivals will nevertheless try: Team 3 Molinos Resort Murcia through Santos González, Jesus del Nero and Toni Tauler, and Team Würth with Luis León Sanchez and Isidro Nozal. The Grupo Nicolás Mateos track rider Sergi Escobar will be another main candidate for the win, as well as Saunier Duval's David Cañada, Carlos Sastre (CSC), Carlos Castaño (Kaiku), amongst others.

Arndt in doubt for National's

By Susan Westemeyer

Judith Arndt, of the T-Mobile women's team, still doesn't know whether she will ride in both national championship races this weekend. She is still suffering the after effects of a training accident in Philadelphia. Arndt is able to ride but still wears a splint on the broken little finger of her left hand, which prevents her from properly gripping the handlebar. In addition, she also has a sore throat.

"It doesn't look too good for the time trial," said Arndt on Friday, adding that she will decide at the last minute whether to ride in both the time trial and Saturday's road race - but she might decide to skip the time trial.

Agnolutto ends career

Christophe Agnolutto will terminate his career as a professional cyclist by the end of the year. The 37 year-old Frenchman, currently riding for Continental pro team Agritubel, has decided to call it a day. In the past, Agnolutto has won the Tour de Suisse (1997) and one stage in the Tour de France (2000). He started out his career with Casino in 1996 and moved to AG2R in 2000. He's been riding for Agritubel since 2004.

Canadian Nationals in Quebec city

The cream of the crop of the Canadian cyclists will compete in the streets of Québec City and Lévis at the Tim Hortons Canadian national road championship from June 29 to July 2, 2006. The competitions will crown Canada’s top male and female road cyclists who will represent Canada in the 2006 Road World Championships in Salzburg (Austria) in September.

Racing will start on Thursday, June 29, from 9am with the time-trial (all categories) in the city of Lévis (south shore). The day after, the championship will move to Québec City with the road race event (junior, master and women elite categories). The Grande-Allée will be closed at this occasion, with the road race starting at 9 am.

On July 1, Canada Day will showcase the road race for the handisport, U23 and men elite categories.

The criterium race will be presented the last day of the event (all categories), Sunday July 2, from 8:30 am, set up around Québec’s Parliament. In the afternoon, at 2:30 pm, children from 4 to 9 will ride in the elite’s steps on the criterium race course, leaded by some members of the National Cycling Team for great fun shared together at the TimBits Challenge.

Fantasy Le Tour 2006 Game Tips

BBB's BSG-23 Winner Quick-Step World Champion glasses
(Click for larger image)
Speedplay Zero pedals
(Click for larger image)
Deda Alanera handlebars
(Click for larger image)
fi'zi:k saddles
(Click for larger image)
DedaTre RS Corsa clincher tyres
(Click for larger image)
Reynolds SV KOM carbon wheels
(Click for larger image)

With just over a week until the 2006 Tour de France kicks off, now is a good time to start thinking about your strategy for your team selection for the Le Tour Fantasy Game. Here's what one of last year's top ten winners, manager "Wanna B. Fasta", had to say on his winning 2005 selection:

"I first started by looking at all of the stage profiles to see how many stages favoured the sprinters, rouleurs, and the GC contenders. Once I broke that down, I then weighted my team of fifteen accordingly. With the sprinters, there was no way I could afford the dream team of Boonen, McEwen, O'Grady, and Hushovd - so I decided to save some points by not choosing Boonen and going with Hushovd and McEwen."

"While I love the Aussie riders, Stuey was just way too expensive. I filled out the other sprinter spots with bargain basement sprinters like Eisel, Wrolich, Förster, et al., being careful to skip over repetitive non-finishers or riders who seem to be entering the twilight of their careers like Kirsipuu. For the GC contenders, the first couple of selections were a no-brainer. Armstrong and Basso were must haves. I skipped Ullrich because I didn't have a ton of confidence in how he would do, and his results in races leading up to the Tour didn't impress me too much. There were a handful of riders that I passed over because they seemed to find their form much too soon-guys like Michael Rogers. Instead, I went with proven performers over the last few Tours­Vino, Pereiro."

"Most importantly, I took advantage of the game's provision that I could sign up as late as the 6th stage, so I did. I went back and did a huge Excel spreadsheet and tracked the stage results to that point, and looked for the riders that scored the most points, and took advantage of that to help me with the sprinter selection.

The Grand Prize will be announced shortly and you can read on to find out about our runner up prizes. Registration has already begun.Be a professional team manager for the 2006 Le Tour and create your own dream team from any of the real life riders in this year's Tour. Based on the live racing action, you will take up the challenge of using your knowledge and tactical skill as a race team manager to compete with other virtual managers from around the world. Follow the races live and use your skill and knowledge to win some great prizes.

Le Tour Fantasy Game prizes

Daily prize from BBB Parts. We are pleased to announce that we are once again providing a daily stage prize from BBB Parts! This time, a pair of BBB's BSG-23 Winner Quick-Step World Champion glasses designed for Tom Boonen, will go to the manager with the highest scoring stage team each day during the Tour de France.

The glasses have a durable, flexible and lightweight Grilamid frame; adjustable metal nose piece for a perfect fit; and interchangeable polycarbonate lenses with 100% protection against harmful UV rays, up to UV 400nm.

The glasses are white with the World Champion rainbow stipes on the bands and they come with smoke blue revo lenses. They also come with three extra lenses; orange, yellow and clear with a flash mirror coating, and a carrying case so that you have a lens for all types of weather. They also have a special shaped lens with the BBB logo on the lens.

Set of wheels from Reynolds. From Reynolds we have a pair of Cirro SV KOM carbon wheels. The KOMs are ultra-light wheels specifically built for hilly road races or time trials. Pros choose to ride them when flight or explosive acceleration is their goal. More than 100 grams lighter than Cirro MID-Vs, KOMs are genuine racing wheels, not merely kind-of-light "all-purpose" wheels.

Ten pairs of tyres from DedaTre. The ten runner-up winners will win a pair of DedaTre's RS Corsa clincher tires in black. The clinchers have a dual compound, a nylon casing and a puncture resistant belting. They are 23mm in width and weight 210grams.

Handlebars from Deda Elementi. Also from Deda we have a very nice looking Alanera Integrated full carbon fibre handlebar to fit high end racing bikes.

Three Giro Atmos helmets. Winners will have a choice of three new edition helmets: Discovery Team Atmos, a Livestrong Atmos or a Polka Dots Atmos helmet. The Atmos is the most aggressive silhouette Giro has ever created; a state of the art cycling helmet equipped with cutting-edge features. In-mold shell and carbon fiber reinforcements, as well as Super Fit Sizing, a Roc Loc4 adjustable fit system, 26 vents with Giro's proprietary Wind Tunnel internal channels and the full internal Roll Cage reinforcement. With all of these features, the Giro Atmos Team Issue helmet weighs in at an incredible 240 grams. No wonder it's worn by the best.

Three sets of Speedplay's Zero pedals. Speedplay are continuing to support the Fantasy game with three more sets of their Zero pedals - the same style of pedal used by ProTour teams such as Team CSC and Phonak. The stainless steel model is on offer and it will provide years of faithful service. It allows you to choose either a fixed position or up to 15 degrees of float. Zero pedals maintain the traditional feel of a fixed system while incorporating all the well-known advantages of Speedplay X Pedal Systems.

Three fi'zi:k saddles. fi'zi:k are also continuing their support of this year's games with three of high-performance road racing saddles. You'll have the choice from the fi'zi:k range, such as the Arione, Aliante or (appropriately) the Pave model. Or, you could choose from its limited edition, team replica saddles, including the new 'Di Luca Killer' and 'Cunego Piccolo Principe' models.;

Play for free in the Fantasy Le Tour 2006 game

Remember you can play for free for the first 5 stages! Try the game out and see how best to play. It's easy to play the Tour games - all you need to do is pick your dream team of 15 from the riders racing in this year's Le Tour start list. Then each day pick 9 riders to race for your fantasy team from these 15. You'll need a good combination of climbers, sprinters and general classification riders.

For more details go to the rules section of the site. There's also some great tips and tricks in the downloads and winners sections of the site. It's a great way to follow Le Tour 2006.

Good luck!
The Fantasy Cyclingnews Team

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