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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for December 13, 2006

Edited by Gregor Brown

Zomegnan and Prudhomme explain Grand Tours' decision

Giro race director Angelo Zomegnan
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Yesterday, the Grand Tour organizers released a statement that is set to split them from the UCI ProTour. They established a set of rules that will determine which teams could participate in their races. The organizers, ASO, RCS Sport and Unipublic, control most of cycling's big races and the move will definitely cause a stir at UCI headquarters.

The 11 races that the three organizers manage are Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milano-Sanremo, Paris-Roubaix, Flèche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Giro d'Italia, Tour de France, Vuelta a España, Paris-Tours and Giro di Lombardia.

"The statement has yet to arrive to me, I want to wait before I comment," said UCI President Pat McQuaid on Tuesday to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "On the face of it I understand, it is what the organizers were more or less saying one year ago. Tomorrow [Wednesday] there will be a meeting of the UCI commission to finalize the 2008 calendar."

The ProTour's main opponents are the ASO (owners of the Tour, Paris-Nice, Roubaix, Flèche, Liege and Paris-Tours) and RCS Sport (Sanremo, Giro and Lombardia). The organizers, along with Unipublic, could collapse the relatively new ProTour (started in 2005) by pulling out their races.

"We are not in the ProTour," said Christian Prudhomme, director of the Tour de France, to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "We have said this before and repeatedly. Thus we want to stabilize the conditions for participation in our races."

Angelo Zomegnan, head of the Giro d'Italia, agreed with the Frenchman. "We are pulling away from the system in which there are licenses acquired that give the right to participate in our races," said the Italian. "On the other hand, we want that the criteria to consist of sporting merits and ethics."

More on this row is expected to come out of Madrid today, where there is the presentation of the 2007 Vuelta a España parcours. Cyclingnews will be in Madrid to bring you details of the parcours and further coverage of the grand tour organizers' decision.

Cunego reconnoitres Monte Zoncolan

Damiano Cunego
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

"I have never seen anything like this," said Damiano Cunego after climbing the Monte Zoncolan, one of the most feared climbs of the 2007 Giro d'Italia. Yesterday in northeast Italy (near Austria), two weeks after Gilberto Simoni, Damiano Cunego reconnoitred the climb. The 25 year-old, accompanied by Morris Possoni, 22, tackled the final climb of stage 17, which will start in Lienz, Austria.

"We were not able to arrive at the top because of ice on the road and it would have been risky," said the rider from Verona, winner of the 2004 Giro, to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "We stopped with four [kilometres] to go. But the most difficult part will come in the middle, which we were able to cover. I have to say that I have never seen a climb so hard. The Mortirolo, for example, in some parts has level sections, while the Zoncolan does not give you any respite."

The Zoncolan (1,730m) was last climbed in 2003 when Simoni won, but then it was approached from a different direction; in 2007 the climb will start from Ovaro, on the western side. "The other side; there is not a comparison. It was shorter and overall easier."

Cunego said that he will return before May to complete the climb. "I think I will use a 36x29," confirmed Cunego regarding his gearing for the stage. "I think that will adapt well, even if during the Giro the conditions will be better, because you will be permitted to save the legs. At the top, they can count on many riders being dropped. This will be very important."

Director Sportif Beppe Martinelli followed the progress of his rider and he confirmed that the Zoncolan will be critical. "If you slow you will have to put your foot down and you won't be able to continue. Then you will lose your chance at winning the Giro," concluded Martinelli.

The climb, in stage 17, will be the last major summit of the 2007 Giro and will come with only four days left to race.

Aitor González remarks on Fuentes

By Antonio J. Salmerón

González in 2005 Vuelta
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
Click for larger image

Aitor González, Spanish ex-pro who retired last month, was questioned about cycling's future in an interview published by the Spaniard magazine Interviú. "Now, cycling needs a radical change," said the winner of the 2002 Vuelta a España.

"The cycling collective is not united. If we impose our rules in order to continue competing then the problems would be solved immediately," González said. If the riders had done so in the 1998 Tour de France... "If a pair of stages had not been disputed, and the Tour's organizer had been forced to accede to our requests, but now it is different.

"Doping exists in all the elite sports. If there is money, there will always be people who want to become rich," continued González. Le Monde speculated that football players are also involved in Operación Puerto. "I do not know if they are really implicated in it. Our problem is that cycling is allowed to be put under an enormous amount of controls that are far beyond the ones in football. For that reason it is clear we always give more positives; data that the politicians have used to promote the fight against doping."

Then, what do you think the Operación Puerto? "It has been a theatrical act; a shoddy work. It has been a political manoeuvre. In fact, the process has been shameful. In a selective way, and without having tests, Operación Puerto has left a lot of people in unemployment.

"The journalist decided on who are the sportsmen treated by Eufemiano Fuentes. Eufemiano has a great sport's medicine background. For four years he was my doctor at Kelme. I have always said that he is better psychologist than doctor because he was able to convince us that we could win without using dark tactics. I do not believe that Eufemiano Fuentes gives drugs to the sportsmen.

"Many people do not understand that the cycling is like a disease," continued González. "When you compete, your organism deteriorates, and to be able to maintain healthful analytical values, it is necessary to help the body; that is, a rider who finishes the Tour without any medical aid, finishes it ill; with values of testosterone like a woman; with anaemia and a series of pathological symptoms.

"When I was in Kelme, Fuentes helped me with vitamin complexes. He did not need to give me strange things so that I could win the Vuelta. I have never paid money to Eufemiano, and when I left Kelme, I did not have any relation with him.

"Hopefully many cyclists can speak as clear as me!" Aitor González concluded.

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

Krauss with bike and crutches

By Susan Westemeyer

Gerolsteiner's Sven Krauss will still be hobbling around crutches for another week or so, but he will be on his bike again sooner than that. He broke his foot the end of last month and had it operated on the next day.

The first post-operative examination showed that everything is coming along well, he reported on his website,, and he can start training again this coming weekend. Before then, he will meet with an orthopaedist who will help him with a splint that will allow him to wear a racing shoe without undue pressure on the break.

Fractured collarbone for Bert Roesems

By Brecht Decaluwé

Bert Roesems of Davitamon-Lotto has fractured his left collarbone in a crash while training on the "Kuipke" track. The 34 year-old Belgian immediately visited a doctor and was giving the diagnosis.

Due to the incident, Roesems, 8th in this year's Paris-Roubaix will not join the team when they depart tomorrow for their training camp. Instead, he will undergo surgery, performed by Doctor Claes.

The incident marks the eleventh big crash for the Davitamon-Lotto in 2006. For 2007 the team will change its name to Predictor-Lotto.

Valentin disqualified for six months

24 year-old Tristan Valentin of Cofidis has tested positive for a stimulate (heptaminol) and was suspend for six months by his team. According to, the drug intake was determined as an accident and the rider will able allowed to return to racing on March 22, 2007.

"The disciplinarily commission admitted that Valentin did not take the substance intentionally. ... The rider is not responsible, the mistake was made on the part of the doctor, and for this reason we have separated ourselves from the doctor, not the rider," confirmed Eric Boyer, Manager of Cofidis.

Spaniards in Russia - track world cup

by Monika Prell

The Spanish national team will be competing in the track competition in Moscow this coming weekend. The team has two newcomers in Sergi Escobar and Jose Antonio Escuredo. They will be joining Salvador Meliá, Rubén Donet, Álvaro Alonso, Carles Torrent, David Muntaner, Guillermo Ferrer, Asier Maeztu and Gema Pascual, the only female Spanish participant.

The Spaniards have reason to hope for podium places at the meet, for example, Escuredo in the Keirin discipline and Escobar, Muntaner, Torrent and Maeztu, in the team chase discipline, according to the Spanish newspaper Marca.

In addition, the Basque team Eustrak-Cepsa will also participate in the competition, with Aitor Alonso, Unai Elorriaga, and Leire Olaberría.

The scene of the competition is the velodrome "Krytlaskoye", considered as one of the fastest in the world. It is built of wood, with a length of 333.33 meters.

USA Cycling recognizes nine cycling clubs for excellence

USA Cycling announced on December 12 the recipients of its annual "Club of the Year" competition. Of the 1,905 USA Cycling-sanctioned clubs in the United States, nine were chosen this year for recognition in three overall divisions and six special categories.

The San Diego Bicycle Club earned the Division I Club of the year distinction, while the Skylands Cycling Club in Sussex, New Jersey was designated Division II Club of the year and Team DRT/Deep Blue in Wilmington, Delaware took home the Division III award. (Division I is defined as having 76+ members, while Division II clubs have between 30 and 75 members and Division III has less than 30.)

Other recipients include Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado as the Collegiate Club of the year, Hammer Racing Team in Littleton, Colorado as Track Club of the year, Dirty Divas of MTB Cincy in Ohio as Mountain Bike Club of the year, Velo Girls in San Mateo, California as Women's Club of the year, the Pasadena Athletic Association as Master's Club of the year and the Boise Young Rider Development Squad (BYRDS) in Idaho as the Junior/High School Club of the year.

The six special categories were chosen by evaluating programs which resulted in the growth of their respective disciplines or groups. As part of the recognition, these nine clubs will all receive complimentary club dues in 2007, a $150 value.

McCook and Perras sign for Kelly Benefit Strategies

The Kelly Benefit Strategies pro cycling team, one of the newest pro teams on the USA national racing circuit, December 12, announced the finalization of its 2007 roster and the name-changing addition of a co-title sponsor. Maryland-based Medifast joins Kelly Benefit Strategies as co-title sponsor creating the Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast Pro Cycling Team.

The team also announces the final 2007 roster, a line-up of seasoned sprinters, climbers and rising young talent. Athletes headlining the roster include Dave McCook of the United States and Canadian Dominique Perras, who joins the Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast team along with former team-mate and fellow Quebec resident Martin Gilbert.

McCook, former USPRO criterium champion has dominated sprinting in the United States for the past fifteen years and brings guaranteed finishing expertise to the team. Perras, a former Canadian national road race champion, has been a member of the Canadian national team since 1992, a professional since 1999 and a proven leader when it comes to climbing. He has participated in four professional world championships.

"The addition of McCook and Perras has added road-tested strength, ability and experience to an already strong line up," says Jonas Carney, the team's performance director. "If it comes to a bunch sprint or the need to lead in the mountains, we have guys who can definitely get that done and bring the younger riders with them. That's crucial for a new team off the start line."

The team has the full backing, support and involvement of Kelly Benefit Strategies and Medifast. Bicycle, equipment and other partnerships are all in the final stages of negotiation and will be announced ahead of the season start.

2007 Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast Roster: Dan Bowman (USA), Kevin Bouchard-Hall (USA), Martin Gilbert (Can), Mark Hinnen (Can), Dave McCook (USA), Reid Mumford (USA), Dominique Perras (Can), Ryan Roth (Can), Justin Spinelli (USA), Johnny Sundt (USA) and Nick Waite (USA).

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