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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for December 11, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Lefévère ready to reconcile?

This week-end, the members of the International Professional Cycling Teams (IPCT) have decided to possibly exclude Discovery Channel because of its recent signing of Ivan Basso. Under the self-imposed ethical code, the interest group of ProTour teams vowed not to hire any riders implicated in the Operación Puerto affair, and many of Johan Bruyneel's colleagues saw his signing of Basso as a breach of the code even though the Italian pro has been cleared by its national Olympic Committee.

"Sixteen of the seventeen teams have take this stand," said the technical director of T-Mobile, Luuc Eisenga after the meeting in Brussels on Friday. However, the final decision will be voted on January 11, 2007, and IPCT president Patrick Lefévère weighed his words carefully on Sunday.

"It's not come as far as [the exclusion] yet," he told Belgian Sportwereld. "We want to talk, but it takes two to do so." Still, the organisation of mutual economic interests is upset about Bruyneel's attitude change regarding Basso, and fears that the public image of cycling could deteriorate further.

"Johan Bruyneel's inconsistent attitude was too much for some. In Strasbourg, at the Tour start, he was still on the barricades to kick Basso out of the Tour. Now, Basso is at his service," the Quick.Step manager added. His Rabobank counterpart Theo de Rooij commented to Dutch NRC, "Imagine that Basso wins the Tour next year, and is called to witness [at the Spanish court dealing with the affair] one week later. He can't commit perjury and will have to admit that something of him was found in Spain. And then? Cycling already has an enormous image problem. We don't want that kind of risk any more."

Meanwhile, De Rooij admitted that "the ethical charter is based on sand, legally speaking. But it is a mutual agreement in order to put our image problems behind us. Looking back, I still think we made the right decision of taking out the implicated riders from the Tour. But right afterwards, we got the Landis affair of the winner who tested positive. Now, the cycling sport has arrived at a dramatic low."

Rolf Aldag, T-Mobile's new sports director, agreed: "This decision [of excluding Discovery Channel - ed.] is an important step and an important signal of the ProTour Teams to stand together in the fight against doping," he told Cyclingnews on Sunday.

Retro: Who got their tyres crossed?

Who came up with the idea of this slightly quirky sport we now know as cyclo-cross? And how did it reach the shores of America? Historian Les Woodland isn't quite sure himself, but has a pretty good idea.

Tour de France organiser Géo Lefèvre organised an event known as a "cross cyclo-pédèstre" in 1903 in Ville d'Avray, just outside of Paris
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
Click for larger image

A clever man, that Géo Lefèvre. Not only did he come up with the idea of the Tour de France, blurting it out for fear of having no ideas, he is also said to be the inventor of cyclo-cross. In the northern hemisphere right now, there are a lot of cold, wet, muddy people wishing he'd kept his mouth shut.

Now, it's not certain Lefèvre was the man who dunnit. But it's certainly true that in 1903, the year of the first Tour de France, he organised what was known then as a cross cyclo-pédèstre. It happened at Ville d'Avray, which happened to be also the town outside Paris where the first Tour finished because the capital wouldn't allow racing on its roads.

France was still licking its wounds after the Franco-Prussian war, when the Germans had got as far as Paris, so it was maybe not surprising that Lefèvre saw his race in military terms. He wrote: "Think about a cyclist in wartime. He can't use the main roads; he has to ride or walk across unmade roads and worm his way through the undergrowth and clamber across ditches. Think of that and you'll get the principle of the cross cyclo-pédèstre."

As I said, nobody is certain that Lefèvre was the first. It could have been a French soldier called Daniel Gousseau, who used to cycle through the woods while his general rode a horse beside him. He loved the exercise, the countryside and the peace of the woods after the regimented life of the army. He was so taken that he began to invite his friends to join him, although presumably without the general. Well, bikies are bikies and once the group had grown to a dozen or say they'd start holding tear-ups that quickly developed into races.

To read the full feature, click here.

CSC still in South Africa

The 2007 Team CSC roster was relieved: On Friday night, an important part of the ongoing team training trip in South Africa was over. The traditional survival camp, directed by trainer B.S. Christiansen came to an end. The Danish squad has been organising these events with a view to develop team spirit in high-pressure situations, an objective which seems to have been fulfilled.

"I'm sure the team spirit on this team scares the other teams," said Karsten Kroon. "I have seen a lot of riders from other teams look at us with huge respect and intimidation because of the team spirit that was glowing from us - well, I even did so myself before I came to the team."

Added Christiansen, "If you know yourself and your teammates this well, it gives you an opportunity to take advantage of the resources available on the team - especially when trouble arises at the worst possible time. That is when the team will be able to use the experiences and information gathered from this trip. It is like packing a backpack with extra power for the roads."

The team training will continue on in the next days, but with a different program and a possibility for the riders to enjoy some sun on the South African roads.

Rich scouting bikes and talent for Gerolsteiner

By Susan Westemeyer

Michael Rich (Gerolsteiner) at his last race in Nürnberg, Germany
Photo ©: Florian Schaaf
(Click for larger image)

Michael Rich won't be riding races for Team Gerolsteiner any more, but he'll continue to work closely with the team, as "material and talent scout". Gerolsteiner has always had top material, but team manager Hans-Michael Holczer is a perfectionist, always looking for something better. He found his man in Rich, who stopped riding after the 2006 season at the age of 37, and who will test and improve the team's racing and time trial bikes, according to

Rich has always been involved with his bikes, especially helping to develop the time trial machines. Now he is turning his attention to his former teammates, working at the Büttgen Station track with Davide Rebellin, Stefan Schumacher, Ronny Scholz and Andrea Moletta, to improve their position on the bike. He's also sitting behind a desk, taking care of things. "Right now we're putting together the material for the new season: who needs which crank length, which saddle.. it's a lot of paperwork."

The other aspect of his job deals with the young Gerolsteiner riders, many of whom have moved or will be moving to the Freiburg, Germany, area: Fabian Wegmann, Johannes Fröhlinger, Matthias Russ, Tim Klinger, Carolo Westphal and Heinrich Haussler. Holczer doesn't want to leave the "stars of tomorrow" to look after themselves, but needs them to have an experienced advisor - Rich. His new job is to help bring the youngsters up to the ProTour level and share his advice and experience with them, whether it be the selection of which roads to train on, how to time trial, or even how to pick out an insurance policy.

But it doesn't stop there. Rich will also be a talent scout in the sense of American sports: he'll spend his summer going to amateur and junior races, keeping an eye out for "undiscovered" talent. And hoping, of course, that the selected riders will end up signing for Gerolsteiner.

"Extreme Power" for Milram

By Susan Westemeyer

Team Milram met last week in Montegrotto Terme, Italy, and got to know not only the five new riders but also the new bikes. "Extreme Power" is the keyword for the coming year for the team: that's the name of the Colnago frame they will be riding.

The frame was introduced to the team during the last season, and will replace the "Cristallo" frame they had previously used. The frames are not made in one piece, but assembled out of various tubes. "If the frame should be damaged, the whole frame doesn't have to be replaced," noted the team. "Only the broken tube needs to be replaced." In addition, the bikes will have a new colour this year: a black background with blue and white stripes. The team naturally took their new bikes out for a test with satisfactory results.

Satisfactory results were also delivered by the medical tests all 27 riders had to undergo. "Surely one or two riders had a pound or two too much, but they'll lose that quickly," said directeur sportif Gianluigi Stanga.

2007 Tour de Romandie to start in Fribourg

Next year's Tour de Romandie will see its riders off in Fribourg instead of Geneva, because of the traditional demonstrations held on the starting date of the stage race, May 1. The organisers, who announced the parcours at the end of last week, also had to avoid the city for the race finale, as Geneva hosts an international marathon on May 6.

Nevertheless, the flavour of the ProTour race will be unchanged, as it will unfold in the Swiss Alps with a queen's stage on the penultimate day, finishing in Morgins. General Classification may be decided on that fifth stage, as well as during the traditional last time trial in Lausanne.

The 2007 Tour de Romandie in brief:

May 1 - Prologue: Fribourg - Fribourg
May 2 - Stage 1: Fribourg - Le Chaux-de-Fonds
May 3 - Stage 2: Le Chaux-de-Fonds - Lucens
May 4 - Stage 3: Moudon - Charmey
May 5 - Stage 4: Charmey - Morgins
May 6 - Stage 5: Lausanne - Lausanne, TT

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