Latest Cycling News for March 11, 2005
Edited by Anthony Tan & Les Clarke
Hamilton optimistic, but proceedings kept open
By Anthony Tan
While Tyler Hamilton's three-day hearing with the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) finished on March 2 in Denver, Colorado, the final outcome is still unknown. A decision was expected to be handed down tomorrow (March 12) on whether the 34 year-old former Phonak rider is guilty of homologous blood doping - in which he failed three out of four tests during the period from August to September 2004 - but according to a short statement on Tyler Hamilton's website, www.tylerhamilton.com, the hearing is still open.
"Although testimony is complete, the hearing is not officially 'closed'," wrote Hamilton. "The panel of three arbitrators have decided to keep the proceedings open. We are not entirely sure why, but apparently this can happen."
Ever since failing tests carried out at the Athens Olympic Games (the blood sample from the second test was frozen, rendering the outcome invalid) and the Vuelta a España (Hamilton failed two out of two tests for homologous blood doping), the popular rider from Marblehead, Massachusetts, has strongly denied any involvement in blood doping, and continued to maintain his innocence - even when his former Swiss-registered team fired him last November after they initially failed to make the cut for the UCI's ProTour.
Subsequent to this, along with a number of rider and staff changes - which included the sacking of Santiago Perez, who tested positive for the same offence and was recently awarded a two-year suspension - Phonak were reinstated back into the ProTour on February 1 this year.
According to Hamilton, a decision will be given 10 days from the date the case officially closes. "We will keep you posted," he wrote. "Tyler and Haven are optimistic. Tyler is back on his bike training."
CSC close in at Paris-Nice; Blaudzun best bet at Tirreno
As a result of Bobby Julich leading a small group of three into the finish at Montélimar during today's stage of Paris-Nice [Stage 4], just five seconds behind stage winner Fabian Cancellara (Fassa Bortolo) but significantly, 27 seconds ahead of the peloton that included Alejandro Valverde (Illes Balears), the American is now Team CSC's best-placed rider in third place overall. However, Team CSC directeur-sportif Kim Andersen still believes Jens Voigt is their best chance for tomorrow's stage to Mont Faron.
Said a pleased Andersen after the stage: "It was high paced all day, and the peloton was very nervous. We attacked as planned in the crosswinds, but Voigt and Schleck didn't manage to escape. Fortunately, Bobby was alert, when Jaksche attacked towards the end.
"It was a daring break away, but the gap wasn't too big, and Bobby improved in the overall standings, which means he now has a nice lead on Valverde, who seems to be our most dangerous rival in this race. Jens Voigt is probably still our best card on Mont Faron tomorrow, but it's definitely a big advantage for us to have so many riders well placed in the GC," he said on the team's website, team-csc.com.
Over in Italy at Tirreno-Adriatico, with Jakob Piil still in pain, Michael Blaudzun is considered to be the Danish squad's best chance of a high overall finish five days from now, after finishing in the front group on yesterday's shortened Stage 2 from Civitavecchia to Tivoli, which was won by Oscar Freire (Rabobank).
"Blaudzun did very well on yesterday's climb, and today he also proved himself to be on form. It was a tough finish and Michael was up front. He finished 21st, and I believe he is our best hope in the overall standings," said sports director Alain Gallopin post-stage. "Piil is still in pain, but it's not getting any worse. He's still fighting to get over his injury, and of course we're hoping for him to be fit as soon as possible."
Discovery Channel hopeful in Italy
With Armstrong out of Paris-Nice, it appears the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team has turned their attention to Tirreno-Adriatico. Belgian Stijn Devolder came close to taking a stage win in Tivoli [Stage 2], but couldn't hold off the crafty Oscar Freire Gomez (Rabobank), Angel Vicioso (Liberty Seguros), or Laurent Brochard (Bouygues Telecom), who took the first three places.
"Stijn continues to make his big step forward in the sport," said directeur-sportif Dirk Demol to ThePaceline.com. "He worked very hard last winter and started the season in very good shape. He already was the best rider in the opening weekend in Belgium and played a big role in George's win at K-B-K [Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne]. Stijn likes to make the race hard and likes to attack, it's just his character. If he has a chance, he always likes to go for it."
"As I said before, taking time in the sprint bonifications will be key to who wins the race," added Demol. "Stijn just missed out on gaining some time, as the top three got 10, 6 and 4 seconds as a bonus."
Demol also noted the excellent form of Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne winner George Hincapie and ever-improving Max van Heeswijk, who is coming back from a stomach bug. Both are using the race in an effort to be in top shape for next weekend's Milan-San Remo.
Max is a funny rider," said Demol. "He's either flying or he's not. When he is not feeling great and suffering in the races, he loses morale easily. But when he is riding well, look out, his whole personality changes."
Armstrong laying low in Girona
After finishing Stage 3 of Paris-Nice in the same time as stage winner Vincente Reynes (Illes Balears), Lance Armstrong decided not to partake in the fourth stage from Saint-Peray to Montélimar. Discovery Channel's sports manager Johan Bruyneel said Armstrong woke up the morning before the third stage with a sore throat, and after the stage, he began to show signs of a fever, which was when Bruyneel decided it was time for Lance to call it quits in the 'Race to the Sun', which, up until today, had been non-existent.
"When we returned to the hotel, he began to show signs of a fever and appeared to be getting worse, so we decided he should return to [his home in] Girona immediately," Bruyneel said to ThePaceline.com.
"I had finally adjusted to the jet-lag of the trip, but woke up with a sore throat that seemed to get worse all day," said Armstrong after Stage 3. "I will return to Spain to rest up and be back on the bike in a couple of days."
Heppner, Salmone out of Giro del Capo
Jens Heppner, one of the oldest riders in the peloton, has had to drop out of the Giro del Capo after suffering a concussion as the result of a fall in the first stage. Heppner, who rides for the German Professional Team Wiesenhof, was able to finish the stage but was then taken to the hospital, where the diagnosis was made. On Stage 2, Barloworld-Valsir's Antonio Salomone also pulled out of the South Africa's largest stage race, suffering the effects of jet-lag and being unacclimated to the heat after flying in from Italy shortly before the event started.
Goulburn to Camden set for return
By Ricky Tozer, The Goulburn Post
Australia's oldest cycling road race has one more hurdle to clear before it is officially set down for a return in September this year. The application for the race had to be slightly amended and now promotions officer, Paul Hillbrick, is waiting for clearance from the Parramatta and Greater Southern Regional Commands.
The Goulburn to Camden hasn't been seen since 1999 when it was cut off due to rising insurance costs, but for the last 18 months, members of the Macarthur Cycling Club have been pushing for the race to be reinstated - "We are just waiting for the application to be signed off. But other than that everything is fine, we have locked the race in with the NSW Cycling Federation," Hillbrick said. "Everyone is happy at a local level, we just need those people to sign off, and we need them to be straight with us and say yes or no within the next two weeks, because we have some potential sponsors, but it is hard to sell the race when it is just a concept; we really need it to become official."
According to Hillbrick, the local police have been fantastic and the newspapers, radio and SBS are ready to give the race plenty of promotion. The race, which started back in 1902, has a rich history and Hillbrick is confident that the high standards of the race can return. "Previously the race was run as a handicap, but this year it will be a teams event with A and B grade," he said. "It will keep it more compact, which will make it easier for the police and safer for the cyclists. "The plan is to eventually get the race back to exactly how it was run, but we need to get it going first."
There are financial benefits for Goulburn as well - "realistically, if 200 odd people come to Goulburn for the race and stay in hotels, eat and fill up their cars with petrol I hope that around $30,000 will be injected into the local economy," Hillbrick said. In the first year Hillbrick is hoping to secure at least 100 riders, or 20 teams of five, but said it would be possible to surpass that mark. "With the event being in teams it makes it more viable for businesses to get involved and sponsor a team," he said.
"We have a five year plan set up, and we have the towns right behind us. I have spoken to Anthony Cole and Phil Bushell from the Goulburn Cycle Club and they see it as essential that we get the race up and going again." When the race does leave Goulburn it will head up the Hume Highway, before leaving it at Berrima, running through the back of Mittagong, over Catherine Hill, down through Bargo and Tahmoor, with two laps of Razorback for a finish in the town of Camden, covering a total of 170 kilometres.
Team S.A.T.S ready to go in 2005
Team S.A.T.S presented its new squad on March 3 in Denmark, with team spirit reportedly high among riders and staff. The arrival of Catherine Marsal as the new sports director has added another dimension to the team, and management are very hopeful she can bring a boost to the energy of the squad - "for the team, Catherine is the ideal person. She is totally committed to the job, and she knows the world of female cycling better then anyone," said a statement from the team. The team will ride Colnago C-50 bikes, hung with Record groupsets - additional componentry will be provided by Mavic and Look.
Currently the team is training for the Primavera Rosa on the roads in France, with the team for this race of Dorte Lohse, Meredith Miller, Trine Hansen, Lise Christensen, Sandrine Marcuz and Rachel Heal working hard for the tough Italian race.
The team for 2005 strikes a balance between talented Danish riders and strong international riders, including British rider Rachel Heal, said to be the team's natural leader due to her strong climbing and time trialling and Danish rider Trine Hansen, who shares similar strengths to Heal. A new face in the squad is Frenchwoman Sandrine Marcuz, third at the 2004 French National Championships and winner of several stages in Tour de L'Aude.
Melissa Holt of New Zealand will be road captain of the Team. "Meshy" rode as road captain for two years in the Rona team, and S.A.T.S will look to this experience for 2005; already performing well in the recent World Cup events. Danish former Cross specialist and mountain biker Mette Andersen has made the shift to the road, looking to prove her ability there after winning the Danish national TT championship.
Shimano Memory Corp presents
Recently, the Dutch Shimano Memory Corp Pro Team was presented in Nunspeet, the Netherlands. Made up in part of staff from the Shimano Division III team, they have a diverse squad of riders, managed by Arend Scheppink, former manager of the now defunct BankGiroLoterij team.
The team will be competing within the UCI Continental Tour in Asia and Europe for 2005, and will retain the services of Shimano team manager Akira Bandou. Colnago bikes will be the weapon of choice for 2005, running Shimano components - of course!
The team has an obviously Dutch flavour, with riders such as Marco Bos, Laurens ten Dam, Alain van Katwijk and Juliën Smink on the roster, along with no less than nine Japanese riders, including Yoshiyuki Abe, Yoshimasa Hirose and Masamichi Yamamoto.
The main aim of Shimano's involvement is to develop young road riders for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, through racing at the European level. This is designed to complement strengths in the country's track cycling programme.
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Images by Makoto Ayano/www.cyclingtime.com
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2005)