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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Edition Cycling News for May 9, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner & Jeff Jones

Petacchi's "worst injury"

Alessandro Petacchi (Milram) as he crossed the line in Namur
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Alessandro Petacchi was seen with his left leg in plaster from ankle to hip last night in the team's hotel in Namur-Wepion, understandably shattered by the results of x-ray examinations he underwent in the evening after stage three of the Giro d'Italia. The man who wanted to participate in three Grand Tours this year, possibly making it his best season yet, will not be able to race for a while - in fact, he will very probably have to skip the Tour de France after his crash on Monday.

"This is the worst injury of my career," said Petacchi. "My great goal this year was to score at the Tour. But instead of that I must abandon." His team Milram estimates that the top sprinter will be out for two months. "We have to wait for the operation and examinations in Italy," said a team representative. "But it seems almost certain that Petacchi won't be able to ride the Tour de France in July."

Ullrich to skip Tour de Suisse?

Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) might not participate in the Tour de Suisse this year. The Tour de France contender traditionally shaped up to July peak form in the Swiss stage race, finishing third overall in 2005, but T-Mobile DS Rudy Pevenage told Het Laatste Nieuws that the race is no longer on his schedule. "If he doesn't reach the finish of the Giro, then we can always put [the Tour de Suisse] back in his program," Pevenage said. "Ullrich will take a short break after the Giro, will go to Tuscany to train and race a smaller tour." In principle, this should be either the Route du Sud from June 15-18, or the Vuelta a Asturias from June 16 to 20.

Bettini to T-Mobile?

There are rumours in the Belgian press that Paolo Bettini has been offered a contract by German T-Mobile, who are reported to be looking for a new classics leader. The offer beginning next season is reportedly worth €2 million, out of bidding reach for Quick.Step team director Patrick Lefévère, whose contract with 'Il Grillo' is running out at the end of the season. But T-Mobile has denied the rumour. The Italian rider has been thinking out loud recently that he would like to move out of Tom Boonen's shadow again to be a sole team leader at the classics.

Meanwhile, Quick.Step's Davide Bramati will also quit the team at the end of the year - as a rider. He will join the Belgian team's management.

Paris-Roubaix controversy goes on

One month after the hardest classics race of all, Paris-Roubaix, this year's disqualified riders Leif Hoste, Vladimir Gusev (both Discovery Channel) and Peter Van Petegem (Davitamon-Lotto) still hope for a rectification of the commissaire's decision following their passage of the railway crossing with 15 kilometres to go to the velodrome. The three riders were chasing the later winner Fabian Cancellara (CSC) at the time of the 'incident' and would have fought for second, third and fourth placing, then taken by Tom Boonen (Quick.Step), Alessandro Ballan (Lampre) and Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank).

The complaint that the disqualified riders' respective team managements had filed to the UCI has apparently been granted by the world's governing body of cycling. Also, Boonen, Ballan and Flecha must now answer questions in front of a disciplinary commission of the French cycling federation.

CPA meeting in April

80 pro cyclists representing 19 UCI ProTeams and four Professional Continental Teams took part, on April 20, in the last meeting of the CPA, the international rider's federation, organized in Liège. The persons in charge of the national associations of Germany, Belgium, Spain, Netherlands, Italy and Switzerland also attended the event, directed by the President of the CPA Francesco Moser and Jens Voigt, the riders' representative within the UPTC, the UCI ProTour Council.

During the first part of the meeting, Dr. Martial Saugy, from the laboratory of Lausanne, explained the procedures of the blood tests and of the Antidoping analyses that are used for detecting EPO, showing the absolute reliability of these methods. UCI doctor Dr. Mario Zorzoli and Christian Varin, UCI Antidoping coordinator, were also at the riders' disposal to answer the questions related to the various regulations regarding health and the fight against doping.

Many of the riders present in Liège shared concerns with regard to the possibility of cutting down (from 20 to 18) the number of UCI Pro Teams. This could call into question some of the important prerogatives acquired with the introduction of the UCI ProTour, they said, like employment stability, more favourable economic conditions and the guarantee to take part in the most prestigious races.

With regard to the wild cards, those in attendence in Liège said they were in favour of the observance of very rigorous criteria from a sporting, ethical and financial point of view at the time of the attribution of these invitations by the organizers. The riders also reiterated the importance of improving the safety during the races.

Van den Brand operated on

Cyclo-crosser Daphny Van Den Brand has undergone an operation to her knee, which will require another four weeks of rest to heal. The Dutch national champion received surgery last Friday, May 5, in Herentals, Belgium. Van den Brand had been complaining of knee pain ever since the end of the last cyclo-cross season, in which she won 15 races, and could not train since. The nature of the injury could only be revealed last week.

"The doctors don't know how it happened," said Van den Brand. "Maybe I bumped into something. But the operation went well; now I have to rest most importantly. The doctor says that I definitely shouldn't ride a bike for at least four weeks."

Aerts, Brandt and Dockx extend contracts

Davitamon-Lotto has announced that the contracts of Mario Aerts, Christophe Brandt and Bart Dockx have been extended for another two years, until the end of 2008. Team manager Marc Coucke still has to negotiate with Peter Van Petegem this week, whose contract also lasts until the end of this year.

Discovery Channel looking for new Lance Armstrong

After Lance Armstrong's retirement from cycling last year, the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team is continuing to work with him to find his replacement - by no means a small task.

In a media release announcing the "Race To Replace", Discovery Channel said that Lance Armstrong will be "the centrepiece of the campaign, which will include a major cycling event, exclusive online content and an extensive marketing and advertising campaign, lending his support to the team from the sidelines. Armstrong will also lend his vibrant image and brand to the campaign as it follows the journey to find the next team leader who will replace Armstrong and on to victory."

Discovery Channel president Billy Campbell said, "Lance is entrenched in the success of the team and continues to be an inspiration and iconic hero both in the United States and abroad. And now that he has hung up the jersey, his role will change so that a new leader will emerge from a stellar group of athletes. Lance's hunger to see the team succeed has only grown, and we look forward to serving as mentor and friend off the bike."

The focus of the campaign will be at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Race on Replace on August 12, 2006. Net proceeds from the event will be donated to the Lance Armstrong Foundation, an organisation founded by Armstrong to inspire the 1.3 million Americans who are diagnosed with cancer each year. During the Race to Replace, cyclists of all levels and ages will be able to test their mettle on the international speedway and have an opportunity to ride with Armstrong, as well as participate in a full day of activities, including family-friendly events, live music and more. The winner of the Race will have the honour of donning the Discovery Channel jersey and race as a member of the team in the U.S. Pro Championship in September in Greenville, South Carolina.

CSC sponsors Team O'Grady Youth Cycling Squad

Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) Australia has announced its sponsorship of a development squad of young Australian cyclists set up by Adelaide-born Olympic Gold Medalist and world renowned rider Stuart O'Grady. CSC will fund equipment, training and development work for the new outfit, which will be called CSC Team O'Grady. The team is set up by O'Grady, with his manager Max Stevens and personal coach Leigh Bryan.

Stevens said working with CSC was a huge breakthrough and believed that over time, Team O'Grady will provide a talent pool for Team CSC in Europe. "We are currently focused on South Australia and our next stage is to go to NSW and Victoria, where we will be handpicking talented cyclists," said Stevens. "Over the long term we would like to grow CSC Team O'Grady into a squad of 25 talented young cyclists who are likely to do very well for Australia on the national and international stage."

He nominated Bianca Rogers, 18, from SA as a rising young star who has the talent to dominate women's cycling. The current scholarship holders in CSC Team O'Grady are Reuben Menaud-Young, Rohan Dennis, Carlee Taylor and Christos Winter.

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)