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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

Latest Cycling News for March 24, 2006

Edited by Anthony Tan

Belgian police raid more houses

Bruylandts, Omloop, Van Santvliet targeted

Belgian police have carried out a series of drug raids on 15 houses in the regions of Dessel and Mol, reported Gazet van Antwerpen. On Thursday, around 50 police, acting under orders from judicial authorities in Turnhout, searched the houses of Dave Bruylandts, Geert Omloop and his father Marcel, Peter van Santvliet, and ex-riders Luc Vandenbroeck and Ludo Giesberts, among others. They allegedly found clenbuterol, nandrolone, EPO, anabolics, stumulants, and growth hormone in 10 houses. 13 people were taken in for questioning, but all were released.

Bruylandts was suspended in April of 2004 after testing positive for EPO. He is set to return to racing at the end of next week when his ban expires. He denied that any illegal substances were found at his home.

More than three months' planning went into the searches. According to a court spokeswoman, most of the products found were in small quantities. The investigators want to analyse the products seized before continuing further with their questioning.

Change of plan: Vino to defend Liège

By Anthony Tan

Although Liberty Seguros-Würth rider Alexandre Vinokourov has raced little compared to previous years, a determined effort by team manager Manolo Saiz to curb his relentless aggression before the Tour de France, the Kazahstani is nevertheless set to win his first stage race of the year at the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon, which concludes in Segovia today.

In yesterday's stage that finished atop the Category 1 climb of Puerto de Navacerrada, the 32 year-old finished in third place, behind remaining breakaway riders Marco Fertonani (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears) and Manuel Beltran (Discovery Channel), but ahead of the rest of the GC favourites. "I have done my work very calmly," began Vinokourov in his typically reserved manner.

"I have kept on the wheel the whole day and with a kilometre to the summit, I attacked. This gives me confidence because it indicates that I am doing well for the work [I have done]. Today I wanted to go to the top, to put myself in the red zone, and I felt good."

Asked what it means for his ambitions come July, he said: "I believe that I am on the right track for the Tour de France. Today was a day to see how the legs were and I believe that my condition is good. I am satisfied with the tests I have done in the high mountains."

Vinokourov's schedule up to the Tour de France also includes a slight change of plan: initially pencilled in to ride the Tour of Georgia in April, he will now skip the visit Stateside and defend his title at Liège-Bastogne-Liège on April 23, a race he holds close to his heart. In 2005, he won after breaking away with Jens Voigt on the Côte de La Vecquée with more than 50 kilometres to go; this year, he says he wouldn't mind repeating that victory under similar circumstances.

"I won it last year and to think of repeating it is very difficult, but of course, it would be something special," he said.

Liberty to Critérium International

Liberty Seguros-Würth will be sending a strong eight-man line-up to this weekend's Critérium International, with the team directed by manager Manolo Saiz. Riders are: Carlos Abellán, Giampaolo Caruso, Alberto Contador, Jörg Jaksche, Andrey Kashechkin, Jose Joaquín Rojas, Eladio Sanchez and Iván Santos.

Quick.Step for Harelbeke & Brabantse Pijl

The Quick.Step-Innergetic team is sending a formidable line-up to the weekend's semi-classics in Belgium, with current world champion Tom Boonen spearheading the team on Saturday at the UCI 1.HC-rated E3 Prijs Harelbeke, with Serge Baguet and Nick Nuyens the likely leaders for Sunday's Brabantse Pijl (UCI 1.1).

E3 Prijs Harelbeke, March 25

Riders: Tom Boonen, Wilfried Cretskens, Steven De Jongh, Kevin Hulsmans, Servais Knaven, Matteo Tosatto, Bram Tankink, Kevin Van Impe
Directeur-sportif: Wilfried Peeters

De Brabantse Pijl - La Flèche Brabançonne, March 26

Riders: Serge Baguet, Ad Engels, Nick Nuyens, Sebastien Rosseler, Bram Tankink, Jurgen Van De Walle, Cedric Vasseur, Geert Verheyen
Directeur-sportif: Rik Van Slycke

Gerolsteiner's plans in Belgium

Team Gerolsteiner has crossed the border from Germany to Belgium to take on the spring season this weekend. After starting the "Belgian Weeks" on Wednesday, the sparkling water troupe is ready to take on the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen (GP Harelbeke) on Saturday and De Brabantse Pijl on Sunday.

"We want to build up momentum for the Belgian ProTour races which are still to come," said DS Christian Henn, who is looking forward to the Ronde Van Vlaanderen and Gent-Wevelgem. "This is similar to being able to check out the race course under racing conditions, and if someone wants to do something in the big races, then they have to know every detail."

Added Henn, "We want to ride offensively in both these races and if possible, play a role in the finale. But the important thing is to learn the problem spots for the ProTour races."

Riders for E3 Prijs Vlaanderen/GP Harelbeke and De Brabantse Pijl: Thomas Fothen, Frank Hoj, David Kopp, Sven Krauss, Sebastian Lang, Stefan Schumacher, Peter Wrolich and Markus Zberg (only for Harelbeke).

Courtesy Susan Westemeyer

Quiet day at the office for CSC

Unlike Vinokourov and Liberty Seguros in Spain, Team CSC weren't out to make any statements in yesterday's penultimate stage of the Settimana Ciclistica Internazionale Coppi-Bartali, but directeur-sportif Alain Gallopin is pleased with the team's progress.

"The weather was good and it turned out to be a fairly quiet day for us," said Gallopin on "We had Peter Luttenberger in the second group and also Jakob Piil is showing definite signs of progress, which is very positive."

Hondo confident to find new team

Even though the final decision in his doping case won't be reached for at least six months, Danilo Hondo doesn't believe that fact will scare off teams from signing him for the remainder of the current season. "That's all speculation," he said in an interview published on his Web site, "I think it would be incomprehensible that no team would want to work with me. I am confident!"

When asked what he would do if he didn't find a new employer, Hondo answered: "Why shouldn't I find one? I'm no longer considered banned, I'm like every other athlete. My innocence is clear, it just has to be legally established at a later point.

"I am firmly convinced that I will be racing again quite soon. How soon it will be, I can't say, but it will certainly be in April," he said.

Courtesy Susan Westemeyer

Class field for first Coppa dei Laghi

Luperini leads list of favourites

By Anthony Tan

133 riders from 24 countries will take part in the inaugural edition of the Coppa dei Laghi this Saturday March 25, the only UCI 1.1 classified race in Italy on the international women's calendar. The 105 kilometre event, which replaces the Primavera Rosa that was previously held on the same day as Milano-Sanremo, will have recent Giro del Lago Maggiore winner and local Fabiana Luperini (Top Girls Fassa Bortolo) as one of the favourites tipped to win.

With the best Australian women competing at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games this weekend, Luperini will face her stiffest competition from the European continent. Three of her most serious rivals are 2005 Giro d'Italia Femminile champion Nicole Brändli (Bigla Cycling Team) from Switzerland, Lithuanian Diana Ziliute (Safi-Pasta Zara Manhattan), bronze medallist from the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, and Edita Pucinskaite (Nobili Rubinetterie Menikini Cogeas), the only person to win the Grande Boucle Féminine wearing the leader's jersey from start to finish, a feat achieved almost eight years ago in 1998.

Other top Italian riders include: Giorgia Bronzini (A.S. Team F.R.W.), a three-time stage winner at last year's Giro Femminile; 2004 world track champion Annalisa Cucinotta (Michela Fanini Record Rox); previous U23 European champion Alessandra D'Ettorre (Saccarelli Emu Marsciano); Luperini's team-mate Tatiana Guderzo, runner-up to 2004 world road champion Judith Arndt from Verona; and Anna Zugno (Safi-Pasta Zara Manhattan), third at last year's European championship.

The start will take place on Saturday at 0930 from Via Provinciale, Località Campoverde, with an expected finish around midday in Valle Sabbia (Idro) on the provincial road number 58.

US team to track world's

Based on performances at World Cup level from the 2005/06 season, the United States has qualified for 14 start positions in this year's track world championships in Bordeaux, France from April 13-16. Riders were selected from the final USA Cycling track talent pool, comprised of riders who have qualified at the 2005 elite track national championships, met a time standard at qualification events in Los Angeles, or by coaches' selection.

The U.S. team is led by five members of the 2005 world championship team (Giddeon Massie, Christian Stahl, Bobby Lea, Jennie Reed and Becky Quinn) and should fare well with the notable additions of UCI World Cup standings runner-up Sarah Hammer and Pan American time trial champion Kristin Armstrong on the women's side.

Hammer has been the U.S. team's top performer with four medals (three gold, one silver) in endurance events on the World Cup circuit this season after taking last season off from racing. Veterans Quinn and Reed have also produced strong performances this year. Quinn took two silver medals in the World Cup in Los Angeles, one in the points race and one in the scratch race. Reed also picked up two silver medals, but in the sprint and keirin at the World Cup in Sydney.

The men's side includes nine riders making their track world's debut, including L.A. World Cup bronze medalist Michael Blatchford and recent Tour de Normandie stage winner Brad Huff.

U.S. Team

Men's Sprint

Stephen Alfred (SPiKE / Capitola, Calif.)
Ben Barczewski (SPiKE / Breinigsville, Pa.)
Michael Blatchford (SPiKE / Cypress, Calif.)
Giddeon Massie (SPiKE / Lansdale, Pa.)
Christian Stahl (CKR Racing / Bethany, Conn.)

Men's Endurance

Michael Friedman (TIAA-CREF / Boulder, Colo.)
Bobby Lea (Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team / Mertztown, Pa.)
Brad Huff (TIAA-CREF / Fair Grove, Mo.)
Chad Hartley (TIAA-CREF / Willowbrook, Ill.)
Danny Pate (TIAA-CREF / Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Michael Creed (TIAA-CREF / Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Taylor Tolleson (TIAA-CREF / Boulder, Colo.)

Women's Sprint

Jennie Reed (SPiKE / Kirkland, Wash.)

Women's Endurance

Sarah Hammer (Southbay Wheelmen / Temecula, Calif.)
Becky Quinn (SPiKE / Quakertown, Pa.)
Kristin Armstrong (TEAm Lipton / Boise, Idaho)

Roulston ruled out of road race

Struck by a mystery illness, New Zealand's Hayden Roulston has been ruled out of this Sunday's Commonwealth Games road race and will be replaced by Logan Hutchings. Following his silver medal performance in the 40 kilometre points race one week ago, where a certain amount of speculation from the NZ camp surrounds Sean Finning's victory, Roulston was forced to spend last Monday in hospital on a drip as treatment for severe dehydration.

"He's had a whole heap of tests but hasn't got the results back," said New Zealand's high performance manager Michael Flynn to Fairfax NZ. "All he knows is that he's still feeling terrible."

Last Friday, shortly after the conclusion of the men's points race in Melbourne, TV cycling commentator Phil Liggett suggested there may have been a judging mistake that led to Finning being awarded more points than he deserved. Liggett believed Finning was credited with a lap that should have instead gone to his team-mate Peter Dawson, however Oceania cycling president and judge on the night, Ray Godkin, dismissed the claim.

"As far as I'm concerned it's done and dusted," Godkin said. "We spoke about it on the night when someone asked me 'Is that Dawson?' and I said: 'No, it's Finning'. I remember the circumstances and I made the count correctly. It was definitely Finning, he took six laps."

Furthermore, since head track coach Terry Gyde obtained a copy of the race and passed the video onto Roulston, no protest has been lodged by the New Zealand camp.

New BMX director for US cycling

With BMX set to make its debut as a full-medal sport at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, USA Cycling has hired Doug Martin as the Director of BMX Programs.

A position created "to help clarify and communicate processes and guidelines by which BMX athletes and teams qualify for competition" according to the press release, Martin brings more than 14 years of professional team management experience, including work with GT Bicycles, Nirve Sports, as well as world championship and Olympic teams.

"In addition to an intimate knowledge of the BMX industry and community, Doug brings a tremendous amount of experience organizing and managing international programs and teams," said Director of Athletics Steve Johnson. "The addition of BMX to the Olympic Games is an incredible opportunity for both the sport of BMX racing and American cycling in general."

Haselbacher sick of being Crash King

Gerolsteiner's Rene Haselbacher is eager to lose his title of 'Crash King' and start winning again, something he hasn't done since September 2003. "I want to finally win a race again," he told the Wiener Zeitung. "I am very motivated to show that I can still do it."

The 29 year-old Austrian is also hoping to be named to the team's Tour de France squad later this year. Last year he did not make the squad, despite a good showing in the Tour de Suisse. "My whole world fell apart," he said. "I had absolutely figured on starting and prepared for it. It ruined my whole season."

"Of course I have learned from the situation," Haselbacher said about the disappointment, but also knows that the biggest competition he faces comes from within his own team: "It keeps on getting stronger."

Courtesy Susan Westemeyer

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