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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

Latest Cycling News for June 10, 2005

Edited by Hedwig Kröner & Jeff Jones

Van Huffel's view on Ventoux

Again, young Belgian Wim Van Huffel did an outstanding job yesterday in stage 4 of the Dauphiné Libéré, which finished atop of France's famous 'Bald Giant' Mont Ventoux. The Davitamon rider is steadily improving his form and especially his climbing skills since the Tour de Romandie and the Giro d'Italia, where the 26 year-old arrived only two minutes off the winner Paolo Savoldelli on stage 11 to Zoldo Alto, and finished the Grand Tour 11th overall.

In an interview with Belgian weekly magazine Humo, Van Huffel was asked what he expected from Mont Ventoux: "It will go uphill, right? Maybe it's a real bastard of a climb, one that doesn't suit me. I'm really curious. I want to climb all the big mountains, at least more than once."

On Thursday, Van Huffel tested himself on the mythical mountain in Provence, and found out that he still had a lot to give. With three kilometres to go before the finish, the Belgian was riding solo in front, before being joined by eventual winner Alexandre Vinokourov (T-Mobile) and Jose Gomez Marchante (Saunier Duval). "I'm a bit disappointed," said Van Huffel to Belgian Sporza radio after the stage. "I thought that I would win, I came so close. With 12 kilometres to go, I made my move and got 45 seconds at the most. But two kilometres before the finish, Vinokourov and Gomez came back."

For the new Belgian cycling star, who will miss the Tour de France but will ride the Vuelta a España later this season, it was the first time he had done the Ventoux. "At the beginning of the climb, I thought that it wouldn't suit me," he explained. "But you see, it is a shame that I didn't win with 45 seconds five kilometres from the line!"

Fast stage damages peloton

Yesterday's fast pace on stage four to Mont Ventoux with the region's typical Mistral northerly wind (a tailwind for much of the day) caused some damage in the Dauphiné peloton. With 40 kilometres to go, Anthony Charteau (Bouygues Telecom) crashed heavily and briefly lost consciousness after his helmet broke into pieces. Fortunately, the 25 year-old only suffered light concussion and will not need to stay in hospital, according to French website

Further victims of crashes include José-Luis Rubiera (Discovery Channel), Massimo Giunti (Fassa Bortolo) and Matej Jurco (Domina Vacanze), who all went ahead and finished the stage despite bruises and scratches on knees and hips.

Dajka hits out

Australian track sprinter Jobie Dajka has hit out against cycling in Australia, calling it a "corrupt and drug ridden" sport. The South Australian made the allegations after a Cycling Australia disciplinary tribunal hearing recommended that he be banned for four years for assaulting national track coach Martin Barras.

"I've almost had enough of this cycling crap," Dajka was quoted by AAP as saying. "It's corrupt, you know. It's drug-ridden. Years and years after, you know, trying to do the best for my country, I've just been trodden on. I've just about had enough. Four years - I think I'll put my football boots on."

Dajka assaulted Barras at the Cycling Australia/AIS High Performance Offices in Adelaide on Wednesday, June 8. He admitted to the tribunal that he had done so, although he regretted it. He claims he was pushed into doing it after he was accused of bullying other riders.

Cycling Australia has postponed the rest of the disciplinary hearing until next Thursday, June 16, and stated that it hasn't made a decision to ban Dajka yet. "The allegations are serious and in fairness to all the parties involved the tribunal must be allowed adequate time to deal with the matter," said Cycling Australia CEO, Graham Fredericks. "The panel has directed that details of the evidence so far presented remain in confidence at this time and we will respect that direction."

Fredericks also responded to the allegations made by Dajka that the sport was "corrupt and drug ridden". "If anyone wants to come forward with evidence, we will act on it, but unsubstantiated and sensational allegations are unfair to the athletes who are working hard every day to represent their country to the best of their ability and all of our members," said Fredericks.

"Mr Dajka's outburst is absolute nonsense. He has been involved in a number of enquiries in the past eighteen months and has had numerous opportunities to put forward evidence of wrongdoing. He's not done so and whilst I understand he is under great stress at the moment and facing a very serious charge I am disappointed by his accusations."

Dajka was implicated in the notorious Mark French affair last year, where it was found that he had lied to a doping inquiry about injecting himself with legal supplements. He lost his place in the Athens Olympic team because of that, and was also suspended.

Mr Fredericks denied that there was widespread doping in cycling in Australia. "There is no evidence to support a claim of systemic drug use within Australian cycling," he said. "There is, in any sport, the odd bad apple but we have and will continue to rid cycling of such people.

"I believe we are handling our affairs very well and in this matter have acted swiftly and decisively whilst providing natural justice for the athlete involved. Public support is increasing which is evidenced by the growth of the sport - membership is up, participation in events is up and increasing numbers are involved in recreational cycling.

"At the same time our athletes are maintaining excellent results on the international stage. As far as I'm concerned that proves our sport is in good health."

Phonak names Tour line up

Phonak Hearing Systems team manager John Lelangue has announced the team's line up for the upcoming Tour de France. The team has two strong time trialists in Santiago Botero (Col), and Floyd Landis (USA), with the latter being the team's GC target. Oscar Pereiro (Spa), Jose Enrique Gutierrez (Spa), Alexandre Moos (Swi), and Steve Zampieri (Swi) should all be able to provide support in the mountains, while Nicolas Jalabert (Fra), Bert Grabsch (Ger), and Robert Hunter (RSA) will go for the flatter stages.

2009 World's in Mendrisio

After further investigation of the planned racing route, the UCI director's committee has officially announced the 2009 Road World Championships to take place in the Swiss town of Mendrisio located near the Italian border, between the lakes Como and Lugano. Mendrisio has already welcomed the World's in 1971, when Belgian legend Eddy Merckx took the rainbow-striped jersey. The next four of five World's venues are now known: Madrid, Spain in 2005, Salzburg, Austria in 2006, Stuttgart, Germany in 2007 and Mendrisio, Switzerland in 2009.

Absalon targets MTB World's

After his first two wins in the MTB World Cup, Bianchi-Agos rider Julien Absalon is aiming at the World's in Livigno on September 4, 2005 and is giving up his scheduled events in America. After competing in the Internazionali d'Italia Liquigas Cup MTB circuit where he scored two wins and took second overall, the French champion posted two consecutive wins in the first two World Cup events in Spa Francorchamps and in Madrid and jumped to the top of the overall ranking. Absalon has held onto the leadership for six weeks and surrendered to Christoph Sauser only after the fourth event last Saturday, June 4 in Germany, where he finished third.

"My first goal this year was to score two World Cup wins," Absalon said. "As I hit it early in the season with two consecutive wins, now I can put all my energy in the second target I have: another World Championship title. I had already included Livigno in my main goals. Now I'm going to chase the rainbow jersey."

The current World Champion will therefore not be taking part in the next World Cup events in the United States. "I do admit that I'm sorry to miss out on it: I'm ranking second overall and I believe I could have been in the lead again. However, 2004 was very tough for me and this year I want to manage my energy, aiming at few selected goals."

Meanwhile, Bianchi-Agos is taking part in the sixth event of the MTB Swisspower Cup in Savognin (Switzerland) next Sunday, 12 June, with Thomas Dietsch and Kashi Leuchs.

Ontario Downhill MTB cancelled

The Ontario Cup Downhill Mountain Bike event has been cancelled. Due to circumstances relating to a claim and insurance concerns, Blue Mountain Resorts has notified the Ontario Cycling Association and Sirbikealot Racing and Promotions (the Downhill Race event organizer) that the event scheduled for July 2-3 will not happen.

"This is tremendously upsetting," stated Steve Merker, Executive Director of the OCA. "Downhill racing in Ontario has recently seen a participation surge. Our first event of the year had record numbers and we were looking forward to building on that momentum. It's truly sad that insurance concerns are frightening venues away from hosting sporting events and activities."

Similar issues are happening in sports that use public facilities. Cycling is in danger of losing venues and therefore participation due to closures such as Blue Mountain. Dagmar Ski resort and Pleasure Valley, two very popular mountain bike destinations, have shut their gates to recreational and competitive cyclists within the last two years.

Closures and cancellations are threatening the Ministry of Tourism and Recreation's goal "to increase Ontario's sport participation and physical activity rate so that by the year 2010, at least 55 per cent of Ontarians are physically active." The youth of Ontario will be affected the most by these closures.

The cancellation may have repercussions beyond Ontario. As Intrawest owns and operates many facilities across North America, this could jeopardize future events at venues such as Tremblant in Quebec and Whistler in British Columbia.

Iron Hill Twilight Criterium

The West Chester Cycling Classic, to be held in West Chester, PA, USA on June 11, has announced that dual Olympic medalist Marty Nothstein (Navigators) will be among the starters. Nothstein, from Lehigh Valley, PA, will be joined by his teammate Vasilli Davidenko, one of the top sprinters in the USA, and the winner of the Athens Twilight Criterium and two stages at the Tour of Connecticut this year.

In addition to Navigators, Aerospace Engineering-VMG led by Florida speedster Eric Murphy; Colavita/Sutter Home led by former National Champion Mark McCormick; Health Net presented by Maxxis; Jittery Joe's - Kalahari; Sakonnet Technology; Subway; and Kodak Gallery/Sierra Nevada will all be competing. Some of the women's teams include Colavita Cooking Light, led by local standout Ashley Kimmett; Team Fuji featuring Christina Underwood; and Victory Brewing with former National Champion Lauren Franges. Local teams looking to give the national powers a run for victory include Tri-State Velo and Chester County's own Team Alliance Environmental.

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