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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Cycling News Extra for June 30, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones

More riders suspended: Basso and Mancebo out

The various teams taking part in the Tour de France have now suspended all of their riders implicated in the Operacion Puerto affair, including Ivan Basso (CSC), whose nickname was allegedly "Birillo" in Fuentes' files, and Francisco Mancebo (AG2R). Joseba Beloki (Astana-Wurth) is another to be sent home. After Jan Ullrich and Oscar Sevilla were taken out this morning by T-Mobile, the teams are now pulling their other riders out. The pressure from the organisers, the UCI, the sponsors, and the non-affected teams has been intense.

ASO public relations man Bernard Hinault told radio RTL that he expects 15-20 riders to be ejected before the day is out. The UCI will then ask the national cycling federations to start disciplinary proceedings against the riders named in the Spanish network.

Teams spokesman Patrick Lefevere said that there will be no replacements for the riders who have been taken out. "We have unanimously decided to send all the riders who are on the list home, and not to substitute them."

Ullrich's ex-trainer calls it a "catastrophe"

"This is a catastrophe," said Jan Ullrich's former trainer Peter Becker to German news-TV channel N24, after learning of the suspension of Ullrich from T-Mobile. "Naturally that will be a terrible blow for Jan. It's unbelievable. You work hard for 15 years...I can't find any more words. This is a catastrophe.

"He has an altitude chamber in his basement, that cost €120,000, so that he could train in a clean way, and he still manages to fall in with these rogues and betrayers. Who has been advising him, who has been taking care of him, since I'm not with him? He is actually old enough to know who he should trust. I simply don't want to believe it, it is incomprehensible."

Belda questioned

Vicente Belda, the team manager of Spanish continental pro team Comunidad Valenciana, was questioned on Wednesday of this week by the Spanish Civil Guard. Belda's team is one of the most heavily implicated in Operacion Puerto, with 10 riders on "the list" and ex-directeur sportif Ignacio Labarta suspected of being one of the ringleaders.

David Millar is ready

In the midst of all the doping scandals going on in the Tour, there is a certain irony about the return of David Millar to racing. After police searched his home in 2004, Millar admitted to using EPO to win the 2003 world time trial championships (among other races), and received a two year suspension that has just run its course. Millar said that he is now ready to race without doping, and called the events in Spain "fantastic news".

"Cycling is the most beautiful sport in the world," said the Brit on Thursday. "I had to watch the 2005 Tour de France on TV, and I felt excited, just like a child. I realised I was very lucky that my first race back would be the Tour. I needed to believe in myself and work hard. Fortunately, many people trusted me: the British team, Mauro Gianetti, Matxin and the Saunier Duval-Prodir team, and, of course, my family. It´s like a new beginning; everything is new to me.

"I want to prove that it is definitely possible to win without doping," Millar told Sportwereld.be. "I don't want any more ambiguity. "I am now one hundred percent clean. In the years left in my career, I will have to convince the fans, my colleagues, and the journalists that I am now an honest rider. I hope that my story is a positive message for this sport. I f**ked up: I lied, I did wrong, I cheated, and I have to live with that now. I hope that the new generation of riders can gain the respect of the public. It's already proven by the scandals in Spain that the sport doesn't deserve that respect yet. Cycling will also need years to build up its credibility again."

"It's going in the right direction, I really mean that. What happened in Spain in the last weeks is fantastic news. Through those sort of anti-doping actions, the organised doping networks will be slowly dismantled. The belief that you can't win without doping, must stop. It's up to the current riders to convince the younger generations."

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

2006 Jayco Herald Sun Tour launched in Melbourne

By Mal Sawford in Melbourne

John Brumby, Premier Steve Bracks
Photo ©: Mal Sawford
(Click for larger image)

The 2006 Jayco Herald Sun Tour was launched on Friday morning by the Premier of Victoria, Steve Bracks at a gala breakfast attended by 300 cycling enthusiasts coinciding with the third annual Bicycle Victoria Tour de France Breakfast. Mr Bracks and the Minister for State and Regional Development, John Brumby, announced the route, which will take the peloton through some of the state's major provincial centres, from the opening city centre criterium in Shepparton, through Bendigo, Nagambie, Benalla and Lake Mountain before concluding in Melbourne with a time trial and the traditional Lygon St Criterium.

The State Government hopes to build on the revitalisation started in 2005 of the 50 year old race, to assist in their promotion of the ‘Make it happen in Provincial Victoria' campaign, which promotes the lifestyle and business opportunities in provincial Victoria. The Sun Tour was recently elevated to Hallmark status under the state's major events program, alongside the F1 Grand Prix, AFL Grand Final and Spring Racing Carnival, making it the only such event outside of the state capital, Melbourne. Mr Bracks envisioned that the tour will continue to grow to "become the biggest and best cycling event in Australia."

Similarly to the 2005 edition, the seven day tour will see 14 teams of seven tackle one stage per day, but will reintroduce time bonuses for stage finishes, intermediate sprints and hill climbs. Defending Champion Simon Gerrans (AG2R Prevoyance) was confirmed as a starter, which will be directed for the second time by Michael Hands. Hands is in negotiation with a number of other ProTour teams to join Continental teams from Australasia, but is yet to announce the full list of starters.

Gerrans, one of only three local riders to win the event in the last twenty years told Cyclingnews recently at the Tour de Suisse that he "was looking forward to defending his title. It's my home town race, my friends and family get to watch, so it's really important." If Gerrans can triumph in October, he will become the first back to back winner since Graham McVilly in 1973-74. While admitting that the win was not rated as highly by his team as a win in Europe, Gerrans noted that "the event gets bigger and bigger every year. One stage per day makes the race a lot more 'Euro', so as a race it's going to get a lot more popular."

Steve Bracks and Julian Clarke
Photo ©: Mal Sawford
(Click for larger image)

Prior to the official launch, the Tour de France breakfast featured a panel including former Giro d'Italia stage winner David McKenzie, dual Women's World Cup Winner Anna Wilson and Olympic Gold Medal Mike McKay, the patron of the local Drapac-Porsche team. Asked for their predictions on Lance Armstrong's successor, there was clearly some home town bias evident, with all three predicting another Green Jersey for Robbie McEwen. Both Wilson and McKay tipped Jan Ullrich for Yellow [before the latest news developments - ed.], while ‘Macca' stuck with another local, Cadel Evans as the rider to take cycling's biggest prize.

The Stages

Stage 1 - Sunday 8 October: Shepparton Criterium, 50km (approx)
Stage 2 - Monday 9 October: Shepparton – Bendigo, 179km
Stage 3 - Tuesday 10 October: Bendigo – Nagambie, 158km
Stage 4 - Wednesday 11 October: Mitchelton Winery (Nagambie) – Benalla, 178km
Stage 5 - Thursday 12 October: Benalla – Lake Mountain, 183km
Stage 6 - Friday 13 October: Yarra Boulevard, Kew ITT, 12km
Stage 7 - Saturday 13 October: Lygon Street Criterium, 65km (approx)

Hammer hosts celebration of excellence

World champion on the track, Sarah Hammer (USA), will host the first annual Celebration of Excellence on Saturday, August 12, 2006. In April 2006, Hammer became the USA’s first track rider to win a gold medal in a decade. In honouring her achievement, she will be joined by Olympians, prominent business leaders and sporting visionaries in an effort to raise funds for women’s track cycling in the USA.

Celebration of Excellence will be held at the ADT Event Center Velodrome, part of the Home Depot Center in Carson, California. The event will start with a reception at 12:00 pm, and the ceremony will begin at 12:30 pm. A world record attempt and exhibition racing will form part of the program.

More details: www.awtcf.org

Santos Gonzalez sanctioned

Spanish rider Santos Gonzalez (3 Molinos Resort) has been sanctioned by his national federation after testing positive for triamcinolone acetonide during the Vuelta a Murcia on March 4. Gonzalez did not receive a heavy penalty, however. He was given a warning and disqualified from the race.

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