Latest Cycling News for November 21, 2006
Edited by Gregor Brown
LeMond speaks at WADA meeting
By Hedwig Kröner
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) invited triple Tour de France winner Greg LeMond to speak at its Executive Committee and Foundation Board meeting on Monday, November 20. French newspaper L'Equipe was present and asked the American further questions, compiled in its Tuesday edition which circulated today around France.
In his statements, LeMond did not hide his support for WADA, and had some harsh words for the anti-doping activities of the International Cycling Union (UCI). "I deeply respect WADA's work," he said. "I'm convinced that Dick Pound is on the right path; that he can pull cycling out of the dirt. I have come here to face those who are looking to discredit WADA. I have spoken about the corruption of the UCI, but not in the sense of Mafia - corruption also means that not enough in the fight [against doping] is done even though one is in possession of all the information to do it properly. I hope that one day the federations won't be in charge of the controls anymore, because there is an obvious conflict of interest."
Meanwhile, LeMond did not exclude that the UCI was about to change. "Pat McQuaid is not Hein Verbruggen. Their attitude in the Landis affair has been correct. They don't have a choice: they have to save cycling, their product, or else it's over," added the American, who also looked back on his own life as a pro cyclist, which ended in 1994. "I stopped my career feeling bitter. I was passed by cyclists who didn't feel their legs turn in the races, who left me far behind. At the time, I told Eric Boyer [the current manager of Cofidis, who has admitted openly to have doped - ed.] that it was time to stop, to leave this world which was ruled by EPO - which gives you a performance increase of 30 percent in my opinion.
"Since the Festina scandal, I speak out loud in public, even though it's a sensitive topic in the United States because of Lance Armstrong. I would like to see 14 year-olds dream about the Tour de France again as I have when I was a teenager, and to believe that it's possible to have a chance without taking drugs."
LeMond also spoke about personal integrity and the respect for one's own health and body. "I was also confronted with athletes who lost the sense of reality. All these cyclists who cheat have lost their way and the sense of reason: after 15 injections, they let themselves go. My teammates were mostly nice guys, but easy to influence. Some of them gave in and lost all conscience of their health."
So what did he think about Floyd Landis? "He called me for advice," LeMond replied. "I told him not to act as Tyler Hamilton did: deny, deny, deny. He's a good guy. I will keep to myself and respect what he told me, while waiting for the verdict of USADA. This guy's talented, I've known him for five, six years. Of course I have an opinion on this affair. If it turns out that he's guilty, he will really symbolise the tragedy of cycling. This guy had ethics, a good education. If he's positive, then there's not much hope for the others..."
McEwen on song for another Oppy
By Anthony Tan in Sydney
Thirteen wins this season including three stage wins in the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France apiece, not to mention his third green jersey - Robbie McEwen has a lot of reasons to believe he'll be crowned 2006 Australian Cyclist of the Year this Friday.
"From what I did this year on the bike, it wouldn't be a surprise so much if I'd won, but it would be a surprise if I win because I won last year," McEwen said to Cyclingnews.
In Sydney as a guest speaker at the launch of the Cronulla International Criterium, to be held a week before Christmas, he appeared indifferent about the award known as 'the Oppy,' named after the great Australian cyclist from the 1920s.
McEwen's first Sir Hubert Oppperman Medal in 2002 came as no surprise. His first maillot vert, his first senior national road title and two Tour de France stage wins were among 19 professional victories. Last year, still very much a winner, McEwen didn't achieve quite the same success; a notable absentee was the green jersey from La Grande Boucle, despite having good reasons for missing out to Norwegian giant Thor Hushovd.
The now 34 year-old won the Oppy anyway. The announcement caught him totally by surprise - he'd taken off his jacket and bow-tie, expecting someone else. But he shouldn't have; the pint-sized Queenslander was still, by some margin, the best-performing cyclist from Australia.
Said McEwen, "The award's something that comes secondary; if you get an award, okay, good - but the most important thing is that I keep doing my job on the bike and win the races I wanted to win.
"Whether I'm judged to win the award or not... It would be nice, it'd be an honour to win it - but I also have the point of view that I won last year and... It depends who makes the decision, I suppose."
Regardless of how he feels about awards and a little extra recognition, it would take a betting man and a brave judge to choose any other way.
"You don't do the training and sacrifices so you can win an award. So I hope I win, but if I don't, it's no disaster, is it?" he quipped.
Bettini reflects on 283 days
There were 283 days of activity this year for Il Grillo Livornese, Paolo Bettini. The 32 year-old Italian of Quick-Step started his racing season this year on February 5 in Mallorca and concluded it, as newly crowned world champion, on November 14 in Germany, at the Six Days of Munich. Along with picking up wins in the Giro di Lombardia and the Italian championships, Bettini watched his sport struggle with Operación Puerto and dealt with the death of his brother.
"I discovered a beautiful world," said Bettini to La Gazzetta dello Sport regarding his season finale at the Six Days of Munich. "We tried to create the ProTour but in actuality it lives here [in six day racing]. On the track you can find la crema della crema. Maybe we went down a dangerous road, to continue at all costs for modernization [in the ProTour]. The spectators no longer understand anything. What sense is it to have two races at the same time, like Tirreno-Adriatico and Paris-Nice? We need logic."
The ProTour, which started in 2005, is still in its infancy and perhaps suffered from the late-May developments of Operación Puerto. Many riders who were initially linked with the blood doping investigation have since been found not guilty by their federations and allowed to return to cycling; one such cyclist is Ivan Basso.
"Enough with the hypocrisy," continued the 2004 Olympic champion. "But how is it that Basso could not race and then we discover that Manolo Saiz has the right to make a ProTour team? It is an interesting game, and we cyclists always pay. Ivan has every right to compete."
Bettini had to deal with problems much closer to home this fall. Only one week after winning the world title in Salzburg his brother Sauro passed away after being involved in a car accident near their home in Livorno. Bettini chose to deal with the pain of losing his only brother by continuing to race; caping the season with an emotional win in the Giro di Lombardia.
"I dream of my brother almost every night. He is not here physically, but he is always with me. I miss him; I miss him a lot."
As of yesterday, Monday, Il Grillo is officially off the bike and in vacation mode in the Maldive Islands. "I will return on December 6, and on December 8 I will attend our first team camp in Marina di Bibbona, near my home. But for me the true 2007 season will start on January 2, not sooner."
T-Mobile heads for the sun
By Susan Westemeyer
The first contingent of T-Mobile riders is getting ready for a short training camp on the Spanish island of Lanzarote, Spain, from November 25 to December 2. The team announced the camp after its team meeting in October, saying that 15 riders would take advantage of the opportunity "to make their first training rides and get to know each other in an informal atmosphere," on the team's website, www.t-mobile-team.de.
The 15 riders attending will be a mix of young and old, team newcomers and team veterans: Erik Baumann, Thomas Ziegler, Bernhard Eisel, Stefan Schreck, Marco Pinotti, Kim Kirchen, Linus Gerdemann, Lorenzo Bernucci, Frantisek Rabon, Giuseppe Guerini, Marcus Burghardt, Jakob Piil, Roger Hammond, Andre Greipel and Gerald Ciolek. Spokesman Stefan Wagner told Cyclingnews that "All the Sporting Directors will be there as well as support staff, of course."
In addition, the team will be helping Burghardt find temporary living quarters in the Aachen, Germany area, to train for the spring classics. The young rider nearly disappeared in his second pro year, but after knee surgery in the late summer, he was one of the last T-Mobile riders to receive a contract for the coming season. Burghardt also moved to Switzerland over the summer. Wagner told Cyclingnews that the team will be supporting him "to have an apartment in Belgium or in the Aachen region when he prepares for Classics and during the Classics."
Iker Flores to Fuerteventura-Canarias for 2007
Iker Flores has added his name to emerging Spanish pro-continental team Fuerteventura-Canarias. The 30 year-old Basque cyclist has spent his entire professional career in the orange colours of Euskaltel-Euskadi but for 2007 he will step down from the ProTour level. He will join the squad along with the team's newly announced director sportif, Oscar Guerrero.
Flores, who won the 2000 Tour de l'Avenir, was confirmed by the team with six other cyclists. Also slated to ride in 2007 with Fuerteventura-Canarias are Manolo Lloret, José Adrián Bonilla and David Bernabeu (from Comunidad Valenciana), Adrián Palomares (Kaiku), Mikel Artetxe (3 Molinos Resort) and Dailos Díaz (Orbea).
Blanco breaks contract with Karpin-Galicia in 2007
Spaniard David Blanco will not sign with new Spanish pro-continental team Karpin-Galicia. The 31 year-old released an official statement saying that he has officially "rescind the agreement signed with Karpin-Galicia."
Blanco stated, "The team have understood my reasons. ... The motives of my reasons are solely personal." Blanco had signed a two-year agreement with the team, and it is not known where the overall winner of the 2006 Volta a Portugal, along with two stages, will race in 2007.
Tour of Elk Grove receives National Racing Calendar designation
The second annual Tour of Elk Grove, set for Saturday and Sunday, August 11-12 in the Chicago suburb of Elk Grove Village, will be included in the 2007 National Racing Calendar (NRC), which was recently unveiled by USA Cycling.
In addition to the designation, the prize money for 2007 Tour of Elk Grove has been increased to $200,000, making it the largest prize list for a men's professional cycling event in the US (The prize money in its 2006 inaugural year was $153,000). Also new in 2007 is the debut of a three-stage professional men's competition featuring individual prizes for each stage as well as an overall winner. The three stages are: a time trial competition, an 80km criterium race and a 100km criterium race and the overall winner will receive the event's biggest single-event cash prize of $26,000.
"We're very proud and honoured to receive NRC designation in our second year," says Mayor Johnson. "It speaks highly of how Tour of Elk Grove is regarded and will draw even more world-class cyclists to participate in the event."
The 2007 Tour of Elk Grove will feature a total of 13 criterium races for amateur and professional cyclists, among them will be two USCF races. In addition, the 2007 event will also feature a community-wide Mayor's Challenge race, a Children's Big Wheel Race and a new Village Trustees Fun Ride. There will also be a Saturday night "block party" featuring fireworks and live bands.
In 2006, the winner of the $25,000 first-place prize was Australian Hilton Clarke. Also competing in that race were Canada's Gord Fraser and Tour de France 2006 cyclists Chris Horner, David Zabriskie and Christian Vande Velde.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)