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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for November 14, 2004

Edited by Hedwig Kröner & John Stevenson

Phonak excluded from ProTour

18 of 19 ProTour team licenses approved; Domina Vacanze gets okay

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

Tyler Hamilton and other riders from team Phonak at the team's 2004 launch in January
Photo ©: Chris Henry/Cyclingnews

After a day-long meeting at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland on Friday, the commission appointed by the UCI's Professional Cycling Council to oversee the granting of ProTour licences has given a positive initial evaluation to 18 of the 19 pro cycling teams that had previously been provisionally approved for a ProTour team ticket. A total of 31 teams had originally applied for licenses, of which an earlier selection process had approved 19.

However, ARcycling AG - Switzerland's Phonak team - didn't make the cut at this stage and the Swiss team has to address some key issues before the panel will punch its ProTour ticket. Phonak has been hit with three major doping cases since August; former Swiss world champ Oscar Camenzind's positive for EPO in August (Phonak fired Camenzind, who retired), and the homologous blood transfusion positives from Tyler Hamilton and Santi Perez have raised questions as to whether the team is able to conform to the ethical requirement for a ProTour license. Both Hamilton and Perez have been suspended from Phonak, but the team's actions to challenge the IOC's blood test protocol have not been well received by the UCI.

As in the case of Cofidis earlier this year, the UCI may want to see a complete change in Phonak team management to clean house before a ProTour license is granted. Should Phonak obtain a ProTour license, it will be granted for only 2005, as the UCI wants to be certain that the Swiss squad remains clean before granting the full four year license. The deadline to respond to these issues for Phonak is November 22, with the definitive decision to be rendered by December 2.

The three-man commission, comprising Judge Pierre Zappelli, Mr. Hans Höhener and Mr. André Hurter approved the following 18 teams.

Esperanza bvba / Quick Step (Belgium)
Omega Pharma / Davitamon-Lotto (Belgium)
Riis Cycling A/S / CSC (Denmark)
Abarca Sports S.L / Illes Balears-Banesto (2-year license) (Spain)
Active Bay S.L. / Liberty Seguros (Spain)
Fundacion Ciclista Euskadi / Euskaltel-Euskadi (Spain)
GM Bikes SA / Saunier Duval-Prodir (Spain)
Cofidis Competition Eusrl / Cofidis (France)
SA Vendée Cyclisme / Bouygues Telecom (France)
Société de Gestion de L'Echappée / (France)
Vélo Club de Paris / Crédit Agricole (France)
Biciclub Azzurro srl / Lampre-Caffita (3-year license) (Italy)
Liquigas Sport Spa / Liquigas (Italy)
Silver Team Srl / Fassa Bortolo (3-year license) (Italy)
Professional Cycling Promotion B.V. / Rabobank (Netherlands)
H-S-M GmbH / Gerolsteiner (Germany)
Walter Godefroot GmbH / T-Mobile (2-year license)(Germany)
Tailwind Sports Corporation / Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team (USA).

According to the panel led by Judge Zappelli, these teams all met the four requirements for ProTour licenses; sporting (teams must have top level athletes and present a training programme for young riders which contributes to the development of cycling); legal (each team is obliged to comply with the obligations for the riders that it employs and respect labour laws and the specific aspects of the sport); financial (teams must present an operating budget which guarantees their future, and complies with the norms in force in this domain); and ethical (every team must commit to respecting the principles of fair play and present a clear strategy for the fight against doping within its team).

Due to an ongoing lawsuit between Mr. Vincenzo Santoni of Blue Sea Services, paying agent of Division 2 trade team Domina Vacanze and Mr. Ernesto Preatoni, owner of the Domina Vacanze hotel firm, it looked like Ciclosport srl / Domina Vacanze would not conform to ProTour Financial norms at this point in the process. Although Ciclosport boss Gianluigi Stanga has his own financial files in order from Team DeNardi-Colpack, the lawsuit looked like it would hold up approval. According to Santoni, his team has not been paid monies owed by Preatoni since June 2004 and has made a formal complaint to the UCI regarding this matter. But the disposition must have satisfied Judge Zappelli's panel as Ciclosport srl / Domina Vacanze has been granted a four year ProTour license. At press time, there is no word on whether Santoni's lawsuit has been settled.

Although the disputes between the organizers of the three grand tours and the UCI have yet to be resolved, the ProTour calendar for 2005 will have some major changes in the second half of the season. The Tour of Germany will move to mid-August, with the Vuelta a España and world championships moving forward. The Vuelta will start on August 27 and finish on 18 September in Madrid. Two days later, the world championships will commence, with the elite men's road race slated for 25 September, eight days before Verona 2004 and over two weeks before the date of Hamilton 2003 (October 12).

With the world's concluded, there will be three end-of-season classics in a row; Züri-Metzgete/Championship of Zürich on October 2, Paris-Tours, October 9 and the centenary edition of the Giro di Lombardia on Saturday, October 15. However, this remains provisional as ASO (organizer of the Tour de France) and RCS (Giro d'Italia) have yet to confirm that their races will even be included in the ProTour calendar for 2005.

2005 Giro d'Italia secrets revealed

Although the route of the 2005 Giro d'Italia has not yet been presented, the first grand tour of the season will be run from May 7-29. Other than the first few stages to be run in the southern Italian region of Calabria, nothing more has been revealed officially, but Cyclingnews has recently learned some inside details of La Corsa Rosa. The Giro will kick off May 7 with a prologue time trial in Reggio Calabria, with an individual time trial planned from Lamporecchio to Firenze to honor the fifth anniversary of the death of Gino Bartali (5 May 2000), a stage finish in Sestrieres, site of the 2006 Winter Olympics. On the menu in the Veneto region is a flat sprinters' stage from Ravenna to Rossano Veneto on Wednesday, May 18. Rossano is the hometown of Giro sponsors Selle Italia and Wilier Triestina. The next day, Thursday, May 19, is the first tough mountain stage in the Dolomiti. Starting in Marostica's picturesque piazza degli Scacchi, the stage will head north through the cliffs of Valstagna to finish on the Forcella Staulanza near the Marmolada climb. As always, the Corsa Rosa concludes May 29 in Milano.

An interview with Aaron Kemps: Pro life beckons

Aaron Kemps will join Liberty Seguros in 2005
Photo ©: Shane Goss
Click for larger image

Aaron Kemps is the latest product of the Australian system of mixing track and road racing for young riders, a development regime that produced Olympic medallists such as Bradley McGee, Graeme Brown and Stuart O'Grady. The 21 year-old former track rider turned road sprinter has earned a pro contract with Liberty Seguros in 2005. Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes found out a little more about yet another Aussie success story, as pro life beckons.

Kemps first came to international prominence when he rode on the Australian junior team at the world track championships in 2000 and 2001, taking a fine bronze medal in the points race at the latter meet. After leaving the junior ranks he began to concentrate more on road racing and in 2003 found success as part of the under 23 AIS national team. The-then nineteen year old Kemps won two stages of the Tour of Regione, an under 23 world cup race, and then followed that up with a stage win in the Baby Giro. His strong sprinting led to offers from some division one teams but he made the wise choice to wait another year before making the big leap to the paid ranks.

This season, Kemps got things underway with a fine second place in the Australian national criterium championships, the performance securing him the win in the under 23 classification. After a number of top ten placings in Italian competition he sprinted home first in the Coppa Citta di Asti under 23 world cup race, attracting the attention of directeurs sportif at teams such as Liberty Seguros and Quickstep Davitamon. This interest was further compounded by performances such as his sprint jersey win in the Tour of Japan, where he also placed third on a stage, and his runner-up position on a stage of the Baby Giro.

‘I had a pretty consistent year,' he tells Cyclingnews from his home in Bundaberg, Queensland. ‘Being a sprinter and racing in Italy, there are not to many opportunities for a bunch sprint but I just try to take them when they come. I guess I did enough to get the attention of a couple of teams.'

Click here for the full interview.

Illes Balears sponsorship pays off

Team Illes Balears-Banesto have celebrated the first successful year of the Balearic government sponsorship on Wednesday, November 10 at a press conference in Mallorca. Team managers José Miguel Echávarri and Eusebio Unzúe, as well as officials of the Spanish regional government declared themselves very satisfied with the results of their first year in the pro peloton.

The team's outcome includes 17 victories, 25 second placings, a Spanish championship title and, while a total amount of €6 million has been invested by the Balearic Islands, it returned media coverage with a value estimated at €19.2 million. "On a sports level as well as for the publicity created, I think we have fulfilled our expectations," said Unzúe to Marca. "We have won in all the different types of races, and achieved podium placings at the two main objectives of the season: with Karpets at the Tour de France and Mancebo at the Vuelta."

The team is now preparing for next season with a roster of 23 riders - at least two still have to be signed - including Alejandro Valverde, who will make his debut in Baleras colours at the Challenge a Mallorca.

Landbouwkrediet-Colnago Continental in 2005

The manager of Belgian Division I team Landbouwkrediet-Colnago, Gérard Bulens, will return to the roots of his cycling engagements by building up a Continental team built around espoir riders in 2005. As there were no hopes of being granted a ProTour license and the team's assets like Yaroslav Popovych and Tom Steels moved on to other squads, Bulens decided change objectives. The promising talents Sergey Lagutin, Maxime Monfort, James Vanlandschoot and Nico Sijmens, as well as four newly signed Belgian neo-pros (Mathieu Criquiélion, Gregory Habeaux, Sven Renders and Jean-Paul Simon) will be guided through next season by the experienced rider Johan Verstrepen. Meanwhile, the Belgian manager had to let some other riders go.

"As for the elder riders, only Verstrepen remains within the team," Bulens told Belgian newspaper La Derniere Heure. "Streel, Van Bondt, Dierckxsens and Durand we cannot keep, even though we know what the latter two could mean for us in terms of publicity. That's also why I said 'no' to Svorada and some others that ask me to sign them. If not, how can I justify the youth build-up strategy?"

For the new task ahead, Bulens will be helped by Claudy Criquiélion as directeur sportif. Although the full team roster is not yet known, other riders include: Ludovic Capelle, Tony Bracke, Bert De Waele, Glenn D'Hollander, Thierry De Groote and Geert Verheyen. Bulens also rejected press rumours that Landbouwkrediet-Colnago had signed Raivis Belohvosciks.

Indurain pro ProTour

The five-time Tour de France winner Miguel Indurain has spoken in favour of the UCI's 2005 road calendar ProTour at a Cycling Congress in Vigo, Spain on Thursday, November 11. In his function as UCI advisor on road cycling, the famous Spaniard said that he knew the reforms bred distrust among the cycling community, and blamed a lack of communication.

"Cycling has been performed in the same way for many years," Indurain stated, "when other sports adapted as time went by. What's intended is to bring some fresh air into cycling." The main problems of pro cycling, according to Indurain, can be resolved with the new racing format, before there might be a reform of the sport's rules.

"There are firms that have invested a lot of money in the sport. Their support and commitment needs something in return: enabling them to participate in the biggest races, have the biggest teams," the ex-pro rider continued. However, the new calendar "can still be subject to changes. The UCI is open to proposals and I don't know what the ProTour will look like in the end."

VDB to decide on Gent soon rider Frank Vandenbroucke will decide on Monday whether he will ride the Gent Six Day track competition, according to his manager Paul De Geyter interviewed by Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws. VDB skipped the ongoing event in Munich because of personal problems, but advised the race organisers only on the day the competition started.

"Frank will decide on participating in Gent on Monday," De Geyter said. "But he has to decide at that moment, not two days before the Six Day starts." Meanwhile, VDB's personal problems are an issue even for his team's management. manager Hilaire Van der Schueren told the newspaper, "It's time he thought a bit more about his career. He is hanging on to a lost relationship. I will send him to a training camp in Spain with some teammates, so that he can leave his loneliness behind."

Jonas Bjelkmark to KSV-Deerlijk

Talented Swedish junior, Jonas Bjelkmark will ride for the Belgian KSV-Deerlijk team during the spring and summer of 2005. Bjelkmark's countryman Johan Lindgren was part of the team in 2004, and arrangement the team says worked well.

BC Superweek 2005

Organisers have announced the dates of the 2005 British Colombia Superweek race series, which will comprise seven races over the period July 15 to July 24, 2005. Based around Vancouver, BC, the series includes the Tour de Delta, July 15-17 (hill climb, criterium, road race), the Tour de Gastown criterium, July 20th, and the Tour de White Rock, July 22-24 (hill climb, criterium, road race) and offers $50,000 in prize money.

More than 44,000 spectators turned out for the 2004 series, according to the organizers and the races attracted top North American-based riders such as Ivan Dominguez, Gord Fraser, Henk Vogels, Marty Nothstein, Jonas Carney, Tyler Farrar, Sarah Uhl, Helen Kelly and Alison Sydor.

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