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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for December 26, 2004

Edited by Anthony Tan

'Twas the night before Christmas... Ullrich & co. spend Xmas in South Africa

"There's still a lot of training to be done," says Klöden

After joining the T-Mobile camp a week later than planned because of a cold, T-Mobile leader Jan Ullrich spent Christmas Day in South Africa with his team-mates Andreas Klöden, Andrč Korff, Matthias Kessler, Olaf Pollack and Danilo Hondo from Gerolsteiner.

Fourth at the 2004 Tour, the first time the powerhouse German has finished off the podium at the Grand Boucle since first riding the race back in 1996, Der Kaiser is determined to up the ante in 2005 in order to add to his 1997 victory when many expected he would go on to win several more. "I feel very good. It's running smoothly here - every day it's up to seven hours on the bike," Ullrich said on T-Mobile Team's website,

Away from their partners, thoughts inevitably turned to gifts and that large jolly fellow with the white beard the night before Christmas. "Santa Claus used to visit us, even though the presents were more modest than today," remembers Ullrich. "I particularly remember a wooden construction kit and a tractor made of wood. My brother once got a car with a remote control - that was a real thrill! To him, Christmas first and foremost means a time of peace spent with the family. It's nice to stop and reflect for a while on Christmas Eve."

Second overall at this year's Tour, Andreas Klöden, who looks like he could use a bit of fattening up, had food on his mind: "We would always celebrate the traditional way: on Christmas Eve, we'd have rice soup for lunch and potato salad with sausages," he said, before recalling the first bike he received at Christmas time, a tricycle when he was three or four years old.

"Klödi" also has fond memories of the traditional roast turkey, but the fact that there is still plenty of training to be done and the 35 degree heat made a turkey-less dinner easier to digest. "We already bought decorations and candles, but before we get to celebrate, there's still a lot of training to be done," he said.

"Training and season preparation come first," echoed Klöden's partner Bettina, who celebrated Christmas with their daughter Felicitas at her parents and her parents-in-laws' place in Lausitz, Germany. Well, Klödi, Bettina knows best!

Vandevelde looking to put the past behind him

And growing impatient for the '05 Giro

By Anthony Tan

Christian Vandevelde (R) and Floyd Landis in Girona earlier this year
Photo ©: Cyclingnews

As Christian Vandevelde gets set to embark on a new year and a new team at Team CSC, the 28 year-old from Lemont, IL, is looking to put a lacklustre year at Liberty Seguros behind him and find the form that saw him as one of the most valuable members of Lance Armstrong's 'Blue Train' in 1999, the year where the Texan won the first of six Tours de France.

"To put the last two years behind me and race to my full potential," said Vandevelde on Team CSC's website,, when asked about his ambitions for 2005. "I am looking forward to the Giro and of course the classics before them. The team atmosphere seems great, and I'm excited to be a part of it."

Describing CSC as "the team of the decade", Vandevelde is clearly excited about his opportunity to ride under the service of Danish team manager Bjarne Riis, who has demonstrated a knack of taking riders back to their full potential after a poor season (Julich), or extracting even more out of riders whose careers have plateaued (Ivan Basso, Tyler Hamilton, Jakob Piil, Carlos Sastre, Jens Voight). The core of CSC's success appears to lie in Riis' ability to motivate 'lost' riders to believe in themselves once more, and to unite team members towards a common goal. "I think that we all have silently admired what has taken place in that team over the last few years and now I will learn there secret first hand," Vandevelde said on his website,

Click here to read the rest of the story.

T-Mobile's Classics specialists lay the foundations

"December is tremendously important for us in order to lay the foundations for a tough racing season in 2005," wrote T-Mobile's Steffen Wesemann on the team's website during his stay in Arizona.

While team-mates Jan Ullrich, Andreas Klöden, Andrč Korff and Matthias Kessler chose to train in South Africa, the winner of the 2004 Ronde Van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders), along with Torsten Hiekmann, Stephan Schreck and Christian Werner, picked the equally sunny climes of Tucson to prepare themselves for their assault in Spring - but it's been far harder than they expected.

"It's the first time for me. And I'd never imagined the terrain being so difficult," says Hiekmann. "There are gigantic mountains towering around Tucson. To the northeast, for example, there's Mount Lemmon at 2800 metres with a 40 kilometre-long ascent. We climbed it on Monday [December 20] - almost three hours of hard work isn't exactly a picnic."

Adds Wesemann, "We tackle distances up to 230km each day. I want to be in best shape right from the first classics. That's why I need these kilometres now." Stationed in Tucson since December 2, Wesemann, Schreck and Werner will not be returning to Germany until January 2, 2005, while Hiekmann will return on December 27 to celebrate New Year's Eve in Berlin with a party at the Brandenburger Tor.

33 year-old Wesemann has another reason to stay: "I have the chance to join the training camp on Majorca on the 6th of January with a win already under my belt - there's a race here in Tucson on the 1st of January, which I won already in 2004."

Dajka cleared of taking banned substances

According to a report published in the Adelaide Advertiser today, expelled Australian Olympic cyclist Jobie Dajka has been cleared of taking banned substances found in disgraced cyclist Mark French's room at Adelaide's Del Monte facility of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS).

The 23 year-old former world Keirin champion told the Advertiser his lawyer Peter McGee received a letter last week, clearing him of taking any the 13 used ampoules of equine growth hormone (eGH) found in a sharps bucket in French's room back in December last year. Dajka initially denied any self-injecting on his behalf, but further investigation from the Anderson Inquiry Report revealed Dajka had been untruthful.

After Robert Anderson, QC, found that DNA evidence contradicted his claims, Dajka later admitted to self-injecting himself with vitamin supplements in French's room, when Craig Phillips, the Australian Olympic Committee's (AOC) director of sport and operations, questioned him at a pre-Olympic training camp in Germany. As a result, he was thrown off the Olympic team bound for Athens (and replaced by Ben Kersten), and his scholarship with the AIS was discontinued.

"There have been so many people that felt like they wanted to hang me," Dajka said. "But I've been investigated so many times and it's good to finally close the book. It's a weight off my shoulders. Now there can be no doubt left in anyone's mind. I've made a mistake [by lying] - I've 'fessed up to that."

Dajka said he has spent $65,000 on legal fees this year in an effort to clear his name, and has also suffered from depression and broken up with his fiancee. He plans to resume training with national track cycling coach Martin Barras on January 1, 2005, and reapply for a scholarship with the South Australian Institute of Sport (SAIS), with future targets being the 2006 Commonwealth Games and 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

"To think I've got to wait another four years until I can step onto that stage is a pretty heavy thing to think about, but I'm back on track," he said. "It was a lifetime opportunity and to miss it, for the Code of Conduct mistake, I felt like I got a parking fine and got sent away for murder. I think I'll be disappointed forever about missing Athens."

Cyclingnews' coverage of the Australian doping allegations

November 18, 2004: Anderson report clears all but French
August 13, 2004: Dajka loses final bid
August 4, 2004: Witch hunting in the 21st century, part 2

August 3, 2004: Dajka appeal will be heard
August 2, 2004: Dajka misses deadline to appeal
July 30, 2004: Kersten in, Dajka out of Australian Olympic squad
July 29, 2004: Dajka's spot in Athens squad faces new threat, Selective leaks or reporting designed to defame?, Growth hormone test is go
July 29, 2004: Dajka's spot in Athens squad faces new threat
July 21, 2004: Australian Olympic Committee selects Eadie and Kersten
July 19, 2004: Eadie wins appeal
July 19, 2004: Eadie considers legal action
July 16, 2004: Dajka cleared by Customs
July 14, 2004: Eadie out, Kersten in, pending appeal
July 13, 2004: Eadie lodges appeal
July 12, 2004: Eadie hit with doping notice - from 1999; French saga rolls on
July 10, 2004: AOC 'withholds' Dajka from Australian Olympic team
July 9, 2004: Pound comments 'ill-informed', says ASC
July 2, 2004: Anderson report clears named riders; full Australian Olympics cycling team nominations
July 1, 2004: The high cost of controversy
June 26, 2004: Accused rider hits back: 'I was never in Adelaide'
June 25, 2004: One week for French inquiry
June 24, 2004: Mark French makes statement
June 23, 2004: Pound weighs in
June 22, 2004: Cycling Australia welcomes inquiry; Riders deny involvement in doping
June 22, 2004: French gets life, but still offers to assist new enquiry
June 21, 2004: Lifetime Olympic ban for French
June 19, 2004: French faces blowtorch from sports authorities
June 18, 2004: Opposition calls for inquiry into AIS track cycling program
June 9, 2004: French suspended two years
June 1, 2004: Horse hormones found in French's room

Discovery Channel for Qatar and Langkawi

Tom Danielson (L) will be back to defend his 2003 TdL title
Photo ©: Mark Sharon

As mentioned in Cyclingnews' interview with Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team director Johan Bruyneel earlier this week, the newly-renamed US Postal Service squad will be following a different racing schedule to kick off 2005, with one team racing the Tour of Qatar and another the Tour de Langkawi in Malaysia.

After the official team presentation at Discovery Channel HQ in Silver Springs, Maryland, on January 10 and the first official training camp in Solvang, California, from January 11-21, a six-member squad will be sent to the Tour de Langkawi that includes 2003 winner Tom Danielson, with eight men being sent to the Tour of Qatar, the team largely comprised of Classics specialists.

The 2005 edition of the Tour of Langkawi marks its 10th anniversary, and begins its first stage on the island of Langkawi on January 28, before returning to the mainland for the next nine days, the queen stage being the eighth leg that finishes atop the ferocious climb of Genting Highlands. No doubt Danielson will be looking to repeat his performance of two years past; if not, Armstrong's 'Ace' at the 2004 Tour, Jose Azevedo, will be waiting in the wings.

Over the other side of the world, the fourth edition of the Tour of Qatar kicks off January 31 and runs through to February 4. Any one of the eight Discovery riders could win the race, but those looking to fine tune their form before the Spring Classics include Stijn Devolder, Roger Hammond, Leif Hoste and Max van Heeswijk.

Bruyneel has confirmed the following line-up for both races as follows:

Tour de Langkawi

Jose Azevedo
Michael Creed
Antonio Cruz
Tom Danielson
Patrick McCarty
Fumy Beppu
Hayden Roulston

Tour of Qatar

Stijn Devolder
Roger Hammond
Ryder Hesjedal
Leif Hoste
Benoit Joachim
Jason McCartney
Gennady Mikhaylov
Max van Heeswijk

Planckaert to

22 year-old Belgian Francesco Planckaert will ride for the - SportsTech team in 2005, transferring from his former team Chocolade Jacques - Wincor Nixdorf. According to, the oldest son of legendary Classics rider Eddy Planckaert inked the deal last Friday afternoon, Christmas Eve, and came as a relief to the neo-pro, as Chocolade Jacques will cease to exist from next year. Planckaert will join his new team on the first of the's training camps in early January.

Team Seasilver adds the remaining ingredients for 2005

One of 14 registered US Continental Teams, Team Seasilver announced their final roster for 2005.

Team roster:

Jason Bausch (USA) Curtis Gunn (USA) Kyle Gritters (USA) U23 Adam Livingston (USA) Peter Lopinto (USA) Daniel Ramsey (USA) Burke Swindlehurst (USA) Dan Schmatz (USA) Neil Shirley (USA) Jeremiah Wiscovitch (USA) U23 Ryan Yee (USA)


Team director: Greg Bourque Team mechanics: Chris Wells and Matt Fallon Team soigneur: Harriet McEntire Team trainer: Dr. Richard Stein

Sponsors: Seasilver USA Inc (title sponsor),, Incycle, Squadra, Amity Technology, CSM, Rudy Project, Truvativ, Time, A-Class, 24 Hour Fitness, Cateye, Zero Gravity, Shimano, Premier Nutrition, Maxxis, Rock ‘n Roll Lubrication, Fi'zi:k.

Emma Davies update

Britain's queen of the pursuit looking forward to Beijing and beyond

Emma Davies at the Gent Six
Photo ©: Jon Davies
Click for larger image

The recent LA round of the Track World Cup series saw Great Britain's Emma Davies competing in the pursuit and scratch events. Like most Olympians, Davies had taken a short rest following on from Athens, although not before she had retained her British national pursuit title for the fourth consecutive year and the points race title for the second consecutive year.

After the complete rest, she recommenced training with one month to go to Round 2 in Los Angeles. "I really did no specific work whatsoever, but it was always the intention to ride LA off some very basic road miles," said Davies. "Admittedly, I rode a derny event at the Gent 6 on behalf of my new professional team, Vlaanderen - T Interim" - which Davies won.

Contrary to some comments in the media, the pursuit event at LA was quite competitive with Olympic silver medallist Kate Mactier, Erin Mirabella, bronze in the Olympic points race, Elena Chalykh, 5th in Athens, and Davies herself. Mactier had already ridden and won the Oceania Games, but Davies qualified second fastest whilst still admitting to a "technically poor ride - I probably lost two to three seconds on the pass when I caught my opponent". The final saw Mactier triumph but Davies was still satisfied with the silver.

The following day Davies lined up for the Scratch Race final. Despite having little left in her legs, Davies gave a classy performance and was a serious aggressor in the race, finishing with a bronze medal for Great Britain. "It really was a good race for me, but in the scratch race you have to be tactically aware - being the strongest is not a guarantee of getting on the podium. After all, it's a classic battleground between the endurance based riders who are trying to take the sting out of the sprint based riders before the final 500 metres."

At the Revolution series
Photo ©: Lary Hickmott
Click for larger image

The next round of the Track World Cup is in Manchester, which is Davies's home town. "I'm not too certain what I'll be riding, but I certainly won't be doing the Points Race as it doesn't fit into my schedule for the World Championship."

One thing is for certain: Emma Davies will be one to watch out for up to Beijing and beyond. "Well, it took Sarah [Ulmer] three Olympic appearances before she pulled off the big one, so yes, I am looking forward to 2008 and 2012," she said. Looking at Great Britain's last female world champion, Yvonne McGregor, who was 39 years of age when she won in Manchester, Emma Davies has a lot to offer - she would only be 33 years old in 2012!

Rider and team awards

Pasadena Athletic Association USA Masters Club of the Year

At its annual club of the year awards, USA Cycling has given the 2004 Masters Club of the Year honour to Pasadena Athletic Association/Merrill Lynch Cycling. 10 cycling clubs throughout the country were given an award based on excellence in one of three overall divisions and seven special categories. Pasadena Athletic Association/Merrill Lynch Cycling was the only club in southern California to garner an award this year.

The USA Cycling judges based their decision on the number of cycling events the club held, outstanding competitive results, educational clinics and seminars, and cycling related activities the club participated in. Pasadena Athletic Association/Merrill Lynch Cycling won the Masters category award, given to the club with the nation's best program for racers aged 30 and older.

"This is absolutely terrific," commented Merrill Lynch First Vice President and Wealth Management Advisor Kevin R. Martin. "Merrill Lynch is proud to sponsor the Pasadena Athletic Association's exceptional cycling program and this new designation is further confirmation that we are succeeding in our mission to promote a sport that develops teamwork and fitness."

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