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Latest Cycling News for November 8, 2006

Edited by Gregor Brown

Basso to Discovery Channel: "It's done"

Lance Armstrong confirms the signing of Ivan Basso

Ivan Basso ahead of Armstrong
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Click for larger image

Lance Armstrong has confirmed the signing of Ivan Basso to Discovery Channel. "It's done," quipped the seven-time Tour de France winner in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport. This afternoon, from Austin, Texas, the official announcement is expected that the 2006 Giro d'Italia winner will ride for the same team that helped carry the American to his Tour successes.

First it was victory in the Corsa Rosa, then an alleged involvement in Operación Puerto, which led to a non-participation in the Tour and a long legal battle, but now the rider from Varese has bounced back. The 28 year-old reigning champion of the Giro will ride for the next three years, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport, with the American squadra.

Armstrong said, "It's done. We have found an agreement [for Basso]," but prior to the signing, director sportif Johann Bruyneel had to wait for Basso to terminate his contract with Bjarne Riis' team CSC. The former contract with CSC, where Basso raced for two and a half years, was officially terminated on October 18, just prior to Basso being cleared to ride by the Italian cycling federation (FCI) on October 27.

There is still the possibility that the UCI could appeal FCI's decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne but, given the recent decision by Spanish cycling federation (RFEC) on October 28 to close all disciplinary files opened against Operación Puerto riders, it is unlikely this could happen.

Lance Armstrong
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

The last hurtle is DNA testing. Basso steadfastly refused to submit to DNA testing to clear his name in the Operación Puerto investigation but it is now likely the rider, in his eighth year as a pro, will give the 'OK' as per the gentlemen's agreement made by the International Association of Professional Cycling teams (AIGCP) on October 25 in Paris. It is likely that Bruyneel will ask Basso to submit his DNA to erase all doubts of his involvement with Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes.

According to the Italian sports newspaper, Discovery Channel is set to welcome the Giro champion in Austin on December 3, when he will be fitted for team clothing and gear during the team’s first, unofficial training camp. The Tour is the number one objective of the American team and it is unknown if Basso will want to continue with the same program of riding both the Italian and French grand tours.

Basso and Lawyer ready for further legal battles if needed

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

Formally, Ivan Basso is not under investigation for any aspect of Operación Puerto, having been cleared by both the Italian and Spanish Cycling Federations. But Basso and his lawyer are disturbed by declarations in the media about his legal status, especially those issuing from cycling organization about his need to submit to a DNA test to be totally cleared. As Basso seems to be on the verge of inking an accord with the Discovery Channel team for the next few years, Basso's attorney, Avv. Massimo Martelli, recently issued a statement that clarified Basso's legal position going forward. If he has to, Ivan Basso is going to fight to protect his reputation.

"The recently repeated judgements and comments in the Italian and international media regarding Operación Puerto, especially regarding Ivan Basso, require a strong and definitive reaction," stated Avv. Martelli. "The reality is that these opinions and statements are in direct contrast to the results of all the judicial and sporting justice cases that have happened.

"The result of these cases is that Ivan Basso has been cleared of any supposed violation of rules, regulations or law and that Basso currently has no pending cases criminal or civil cases against him regarding doping. And that any declaration for the necessity of blood tests for DNA or other values we consider to be an illegal and inadmissible intrusion to his private life. Thus, any declaration that Ivan Basso that says that there are limits or conditions to prevent Basso for racing for a "ProTour" team or participate in "ProTour" competitions are discriminatory and against the current rules."

Avv. Massimo Martelli continued, declaring "The current professional and personal position of Ivan Basso is that he conforms to and respects the ProTour Code of Ethics and that any declaration in the media to the contrary will be seen as defamatory and thus will be dealt with via legal means by his counsel, Avv. Massimo Martelli."

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

Cofidis case continues

Philippe Gaumont in 2004
Photo ©: CN

The trial involving former members of Cofidis over the 2004 allegations of 'acquiring and holding banned substances' is underway near Paris. During the court proceeding yesterday, David Millar shed light on doping. "Because my job was to make results," said the British rider according to AFP "... You take drugs because you are a prisoner of money and glory."

Ten people involved with the 2004 Cofidis affair are facing trial for infringing France's anti-doping laws. Seven of the 10 are cyclist or ex-cyclists linked to the French squad Cofidis; Italian Massimiliano Lelli, Brit David Millar, Frenchmen Philippe Gaumont, Robert Sassone, Médéric Clain, and Poles Marek Rutkiewicz and Daniel Majewski. Also on trial will be director sportif Oleg Kozlitine, trainer Boguslaw Madejak, and pharmacist Pierre Ben Yamin.

Retired rider Gaumont claimed during his deposition that "hypocrisy reigns and there is a culture of syringes. ... It is hard to change things in cycling. It is controlled by former riders, which are often former cheats."

The trial, expected to last five days, will be led by judge Richard Pallain and will look into various charges of drug trafficking and use.

Tour de France stage winner to lead Agritubel in Tour Down Under

Juan Miguel Mercado (Agritubel)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Two-time Tour de France stage winner Juan Miguel Mercado, 28, is ready to lead Agritubel when it makes its Tour Down Under debut in January. The Spaniard won this year's 190.5 km stage 10 into Pau, getting into an early break and riding away in a two man attack with Cyril Dessel (Ag2R Prévoyance). The two stayed clear and Mercado took the sprint.

It was the second stage victory for Mercado, his first coming in the 2004 Tour. Agritubel was the only wild card team entered in the 2006 Tour de France and six members of that team are headed to Adelaide for the 2007 Tour Down Under, including fellow Spaniards José Alberto Martínez and Moisés Dueñas. The team will also send young French talent Benoît Sinner, 22, who is the reigning U23 European road champion.

"We're really looking forward to welcoming Agritubel to Adelaide and I'm sure they'll be a force in the race," said race director, Mike Turtur. "The fact they are sending such a strong team of their top riders demonstrates how serious they are about making an impact early in the season."

Crédit Agricole has also confirmed their starting list for the Tour Down Under with Russian Alexandre Botcharov again heading to Australia. The 31 year-old, who finished second overall behind Australian Michael Rogers in the 2002 Tour Down Under, posted a second overall in the 2006 Tour Méditerranéen and was eighth in the road race at the World Championships in Salzburg.

Crédit Agricole will also start New Zealander Julian Dean and Australian rider Mark Renshaw.

The Ag2R Prévoyance team of defending champion Simon Gerrans has announced two changes to its starting list. Frenchmen Renaud Dion and Christophe Riblon will be replaced by Swiss rider Martin Elmiger and Frenchman Stéphane Goubert.

The 2007 Tour Down Under will be held January 16 – 21, 2007. For further information please visit the official website at

Crédit Agricole
Alexandre Botcharov (Rus)
Julian Dean (NZl)
Christophe Edaleine (Fra)
Patrice Halgand (Fra)
Christophe Laurent (Fra)
Mark Renshaw (Aus)
Nicholas Roche (Irl)
Yannick Talabardon (Fra)

Juan Miguel Mercado (Spa)
Manuel Calvente (Spa)
Cédric Coutouly (Fra)
José Alberto Martínez (Spa)
Moisés Dueñas (Spa)
Eduardo Gonzalo (Spa)
Hans Dekkers (Ned)
Benoît Sinner (Fra)

Meares in best shape since Athens and backs herself for gold

Anna Meares
Photo ©:
Click for larger image

Olympic and Commonwealth Games Champion, Anna Meares, says she is in the best form since the 2004 Athens Olympic Games where she set the world record to win the gold medal in the 500m time trial, and is backing herself to win at next week's UCI Track Cycling World Cup Classics in Sydney at the Dunc Gray Velodrome.

The 23 year old Queenslander, who will line up in Sydney with 250 cyclists from 32 countries contesting 16 events, overcame a back injury that last year threatened to end her career. Meares came back to win Commonwealth Games time trial gold and sprint silver in Melbourne this year and says her current form is so good it's "scary."

"It's fantastic to have Sydney as the opening round [in past years it has been the final round] because it has drawn in the really big hitters, the riders who are on the top of the ladder," said Meares. "It's an ideal opportunity to measure how I am placed but it's also scary ground because I haven't felt this good for a couple of years so I'm cautious of how I will perform but would love to come away with the 500m gold."

Meares, who took an extended break after her wedding in April, says she has had a solid block of training leading up to next week's event which kicks off her bid for gold in the 2008 Olympics.

"I've settled into married life and the break really helped my back recover fully," she explained. "I hadn't been able to do gym work for 12 months leading into the Commonwealth Games but since I resumed training in June I've done a load of stress and weight tests in the gym and there's been no twinge at all in my back. It makes me feel more confident on the bike knowing that and I'm really looking forward to a full racing program in Sydney next week."

Meares will race the 500m time trial, sprint, keirin and teams sprint (paired with sister Kerrie) in Sydney but the sprint will be of special significance.

"I really want to put my best foot forward in the sprint because with the demise of the time trial from the Olympic program it's the only event for female sprinters and I want to own it by the time I get to Beijing," continued Meares. "But it will also be great to team up with Kerrie in the [two woman] teams sprint that has been reintroduced to international competition."

In the 500m time trial Meares will resume her battle with eight-time World Champion, Natallia Tsylinskaya. Tsylinskaya is the reigning World Champion and comes in as the defending World Cup Champion after winning three of the four rounds in the 2005-2006 series.

"It's pretty cool that I beat her in Melbourne and Athens but I know that fact really fires her up to get the better of me whenever we race," Meares commented on her rival. They'll both face competition from other quarters including Dutch rider Yvonne Hijgenaar, who won the event at the last Sydney World Cup and who finished only one point behind Tsylinskaya in the series rankings. Both she and Meares will have to contend with Commonwealth Games Champion and 2006 World Championships silver medallist Victoria Pendleton from Great Britain.

In the women's endurance events reigning Commonwealth and 2005 World Champion in the individual pursuit, Katie Mactier, will go in as the favourite while dual Commonwealth Games gold medallist Sydney's Kate Bates will be hard to beat in the points and scratch races on her home track.

For more information or tickets visit or call 02 9738 2505.

Cycling federation chief survives assassination attempt

The first vice president of the Nigeria Cycling Federation (NCF), Yinka Badare, has survived a gun attack in Akure. Badare, who was attacked by unknown assailants, is recovering from surgery to remove 25 pellets lodged in his body at a private hospital in Akure.

"I thank God, I am alive to tell the story," said the vice president to Nigerian's The Tide. "I was almost dead. I thought I would not make it."

Badare said that the gunmen arrived on motorcycles and demanded his car keys and mobile phone, which he surrendered. As he was walking away, one of the thieves shot Badare just below the abdomen.

Badare's car was abandoned by the attackers and has since been recovered by the police.

Junior world champions sprint at Revolution

With the elite British sprinters training in Australia it is down to the junior sprinters to fight it out for national pride at the next Revolution on November 18th. Riders from France, Holland and Germany will line up to take on the British Champions. The programme will feature a sprint omnium for the women and men with only two riders destined for overall victory.

Home territory British National Sprint Coach Iain Dyer has been busy preparing the British juniors for the challenge ahead, "Revolution brought some top German juniors over to race last season and the experience was invaluable for our juniors" said Dyer. "This time the best riders from France, Holland and Germany are on the start sheet so it is a huge deal for the squad. The team has been preparing at a half term training camp. ...

"We had a great World Championships" he continued. "And I'm absolutely certain that the foreign riders will be out to settle some scores from that."

Triple Junior World Champion Jason Kenny and Junior Keirin World Champion Anna Blyth lead the charge for the Brits and Dyer confirms that they will be out to take a few scalps themselves, "Some of the more experienced riders will be after a few scalps of their own, looking to sign off in style as they move up into the elite ranks. Anna and Jason will be wearing the rainbow jerseys and I know that they will race as hard as they can to ensure victory".

Kenny is likely to be the target of French sprinters Ghislain Boiron and Nicolas Bourin who he beat to take the Keirin title at the Junior Worlds with Blyth also facing a rematch against Germany's Charleen Delev. Other international competitors include Yorick Bos, Jeffrey Kuipers, Elise van Hage and Anouk Ligthart from Holland Sacha Hubner, Tobias Wachter and Hannah Welte from Germany and Junior 500m Time Trial World Champion Sandi Clair from France.

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