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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for December 2, 2006

Edited by Laura Weislo

Saiz’ license in doubt?

By Shane Stokes

Manolo Saiz
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)
Manolo Saiz appears to have a very tough fight ahead if he is to retain his ProTour licence, due to the news that he has lodged the Astana backers as the proposed sponsors for his 2007 team. The conglomerate of Kazakh companies has its own ProTour licence application underway and while it lost out this week, the team is planning to appeal the decision to the UCI.

General manager Marc Biver spoke to Cyclingnews about the situation today, and reiterated earlier statements that Astana will not back Saiz. “Manolo has said that Astana is the backer for his team in his application. However Astana cancelled the contract with Manolo because of the doping problem, because of [what happened at] the Tour,” he stated. “It was because he was involved in the scandal and that Astana said that they don't want to work with this gentleman. In early August, Astana resigned from the contract with Manolo, but still left him with money that they had paid.”

Saiz has insisted that the contract is still valid, but with Biver's opinion and insistence that the team will not work with the Spaniard, Saiz could have a tough court battle on his hands. The former Tour de Suisse organiser doesn’t appear worried about the situation. “First of all, Manolo has not been able to show that he has a sponsor,” he stated. “Certainly I don't believe that he was able to deliver a bank guarantee for 30% of the salaries [as required by the UCI]. I don't see any issue from Manolo. But if there is, then for sure it will end up in the courts.”

Indeed, Biver is of the opinion that Saiz should step away from the sport. “The thing is, if Manolo doesn't get punished for what he has done, I really wonder what you need to do in the cycling world to be punished. For me, it is nonsense. What else need you do to be banned from the sport?”

Even if Astana are unsuccessful in their appeal to secure a ProTour licence, the possibility of them teaming up with Saiz to use his slot seems very remote. Biver told Cyclingnews that some members of the team would be happy to compete as a Continental Professional outfit in 2007, due to the fact that they can pick and choose the races on their programme rather than being held to a full ProTour schedule.

Saiz has been under a cloud since his arrest in the Operación Puerto sweep back in May. He was allegedly found in possession of doping substances and a large sum of money, but denies he did anything wrong. He is currently taking legal action against the investigators, claiming falsification of documents.

Saiz is clinging to the idea that he will run a team again
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)
The UCI earlier stated its reluctance in allowing him to keep his license, stating in October that it "regrets the circumstances which have obliged the commission to take this decision, which is undoubtedly correct in legal terms, but which is most likely due to the lack of information from the Spanish authorities and the extremely confusing state of affairs with Operaciòn Puerto.

"The UCI is extremely concerned by this situation and will take all the measures that it deems necessary to protect the interests of cycling as a whole, in particular as regards disciplinary procedures against the individuals concerned.”

Cyclingnews understands that Saiz will appear before the licensing commission on December 7th with regards to his application. If he loses his ProTour license, that would theoretically open up a second slot for the teams chasing a place in cycling’s top division. Barloworld and are currently under consideration with regards their applications, while Biver’s Swiss Astana team are hoping that their appeal will be successful and that they too will be back in the hunt.

Operación Puerto riders called to testify

Alberto Contador
Photo ©: Hedwig Kröner
(Click for larger image)

The Spanish judge in charge of the Operación Puerto case has begun issuing subpoenas to the implicated riders, according to the Spanish sports news daily As. The first two riders to receive the summons are Alberto Contador and Jesus Hernandez, both of whom rode for Manolo Saiz' Liberty Seguros team, although Hernandez transferred from Liberty Seguros to the Spanish continental team Relax-GAM for the 2006 season.

The judge, Antonio Serrano, reportedly plans to call most of the 58 riders named in the police report to Madrid to testify. Contador and Hernandez are scheduled to appear on December 11, and were likely chosen first because they reside near Madrid. Both riders were cleared of any involvement in the case by the UCI earlier this summer, and allowed to race.

The judge reiterated his previous orders that the documents of the case are not to be used by national federations as evidence to sanction riders, despite a strongly-worded plea from UCI president Pat McQuaid to the Spanish minister of sport urging the reversal of this decision. McQuaid was contacted regarding the news of the subpoenas, and told Cyclingnews "If it moves the investigation forward, then that is a good thing. I also saw in the media that the Spanish judge may consider opening up things, with regards to us being able to use the files. If that is true then it is a positive development."

The testimony of riders implicated in the case will be gathered over the course of the next few months in the case in which eight people were charged with crimes against public health. None of the riders face criminal charges at the moment, since doping was not illegal at the time of the arrests, although an anti-doping law was passed in November.

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'

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

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of Operación Puerto

Biver disappointed with UCI over Astana ProTour Bid

Team Astana
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The Astana team's ProTour license application was recently rejected by the UCI, which claimed the team did not submit their application in full in the required timeline. However, as Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes discovers from speaking with the Astana team general manager, there is more to the story.

Astana General Manager Marc Biver has spoken of his disappointment with the UCI’s decision not to grant the team a ProTour license, claiming that the team has been treated unfairly and asked to provide financial guarantees which he said exceeded the level requested for other applicants.

The former Tour de Suisse organiser said that a last minute requirement to provide a bank guarantee for the full €12 million budget led to the team's application being delayed and that they will exercise their right to appeal their case to the UCI’s license commission next week. However he states that if this is rejected, the team has chosen not to appeal to CAS and will instead race as a Continental Professional squad in 2007.

Cyclingnews contacted Biver following the news that the UCI had turned down the application. They were one of three teams going for the license slot previously held by Phonak. Yet while Barloworld and have seen their bids go forward for consideration, Astana were told that theirs was unsuccessful. He gave his reaction to this on Friday afternoon, and talked about the plan of action going forward.

"The reaction is certainly one of disappointment, given the manner that that we have been treated," he said. "We have the feeling that we have not been treated with the same equality as the other teams. In addition to that, the UCI stated that we cannot have the Kazakh cycling federation as a sponsor; this, in our opinion, is wrong because the cycling federation in Kazakhstan has the same financial possibilities as any other sponsor in cycling. So therefore we cannot accept the decision."

Read the full feature here.

Krauss home after operation

Gerolsteiner's Sven Krauss is home again after 35 minute surgery Friday morning. Surgeons at the Sportklinik Stuttgart put a screw in his right foot, which he broke Thursday evening. "The doctors were satisfied with how the operation went," Krauss said. "Fortunately I only have to take a 14 day break. After Christmas I'll be ready to go to Mallorca to train."

Asian Games kick off in Doha

Fumiyuki Beppu (Discovery Channel)
Photo ©: Régis Garnier
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The 2006 Asian Games kicked off today in Doha, Qatar. The cycling competition begins on Sunday with the men's road race, where Discovery Channel rider Fumiyuki Beppu (Japan) will be a favorite. Beppu will face strong competition from the Tour of Thailand winner Li Fuyu (China) and Iranians Ghader Mizbani Iranagh and Hossein Askari.

Beppu's compatriot Miho Oki is one of the favorites for the women's road race on Monday, but will have to battle against 1996 Olympic gold medalist Zulfiya Zabirova (Kazakhstan) for the win.

The Chinese delegation will be looking to ramp up their performance in preparation for the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing, and are favored to pick up more than one medal in the track cycling events, which begin on December 9. In the women's sprint, Guo Shuang, bronze medallist at the 2006 elite world track championships is the clear favorite. In the endurance events, Li Wang, the silver medallist at the 2005 Sydney world cup is another potential winner for China.

Ballan wins Tuttobici

Alessandro Ballan, Lampre-Fondital's man for the classics, was awarded the Tuttobici trophy as best Italian cyclist of 2006. Known for his aggressive, attacking style, Ballan finished third in the controversial finish of this year's Paris-Roubaix, and was one of the few riders to challenge Tom Boonen in the classics.

Ballan began his season by winning the Trofeo Laigueglia, and went on to come second to Boonen at the E3-Prijs Vlaanderen. He was fifth at the Tour of Flanders, and eighth in Milan-San Remo, where he launched an explosive move on the Poggio, only to be marked by Boonen's teammate Pozzato. Ballan will ride once more for the Lampre-Fondital team in 2007.

Millar and Wiggins to try team sprint

Bradley Wiggins
Photo ©: Richard Robotham
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After the success of the Italian Pursuit at Manchester's Revolution on October 14th, Gordon Harling, the technical director for the event has been racking his brains to come up with something equally exciting and just as hard to call. But it was Bradley Wiggins who came up with an interesting proposal: A flying team sprint featuring himself, Staff and Chiappa on one team and Millar, MacLean and Van Eijden on the other.

Wiggins said, "There didn’t seem much point in Dave and I doing another pursuit, especially as Obree will be there, and we are both in the early stages of training after the off season. Gordon had mentioned doing the team sprint before and I just thought it will be a brilliant spectacle and actually a pretty hard race to call"

Millar was quick to support the idea. "I like the idea of it being flying, and as long as I lead it out I’m happy. I learnt my lesson after that Italian Pursuit….man that was hard… so I’m totally up for giving it a try and hopefully I’ll have some more form than a month ago!"

Wiggins will also feature in the Isaac Galvez Memorial Madison, where he will partner with Franco Marvulli. The Madison will serve as a tribute to the rider who died tragically at the Ghent Six day last weekend, and who scheduled to appear at Revolution on Saturday.

Harling said, "We felt it was entirely fitting that our Madison be renamed the Isaac Galvez Memorial – we hold a Madison each season at Revolution and from now on it will always been in memory of Isaac. We will also be raising money for the foundation started by Patrik Sercu. We have started the ball rolling by donating Isaac’s appearance money to the fund, there will also be collection boxes at the event if people want to donate."

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

Olympic champions to Bankstown Wheelrace

Members of the Australian track team, fresh from their victories in the Sydney world cup, will appear at the Bankstown Wheelrace Cup at the Dunc Gray velodrome in Sydney on December 16. World record holder Anna Meares and Olympic champion Ryan Bayley will appear, along with Commonwealth Games champion Ben Kersten, and an array of Australia’s best cyclists, including Kate Bates, former world's medallist Rochelle Gilmore, Junior world champion Skye-Lee Armstrong. There will be eight NSW State Championships decided throughout the night.

The main carnival starts at 6.30pm with gates opening at 5.30pm.

Grupo Nicolás Mateos signs five

By Antonio J. Salmerón

The Spanish squad Grupo Nicolás Mateos' manager, Juan Carlos González Salvador, has confirmed to Cyclingnews the signing of five new riders. Joining the team will be Egoitz Murgoitio, Javier Etxarri, Gorka Amuriza and Miguel Otxoa, in addition to Beñat Intxausti. Extarri comes from Seguros Bilbao, whereas Murgoitio was riding on Cafés Baqué. Amuriza raced in Orbea and Otxoa, for a branch of Saunier Duval.

Grupo Nicolás Mateos' director will have "ten or twelve" riders for 2007, after renewing to Sergi Escobar, Pablo de Pedro, Diego Milán and Javier Moreno. The Spanish continental squad is also looking for one or two local riders. The team will participate in the Spanish national calendar, and also plans to enter some races in Portugal and the UK.

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