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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News for September 28, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones

Valverde back for Lombardia

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Alejandro Valverde
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

The final kilometres of the men's world championship road race in Salzburg last Sunday was not flattering for the Spanish national team's main aim, which was to win the rainbow jersey. Alejandro Valverde finished third behind Paolo Bettini and Erik Zabel in what ended up being a four man sprint.

"Perhaps a tougher parcours could have eliminated all the sprinters that managed to get to the end in good enough condition to dispute the medals," Valverde told Cyclingnews at his official reception in Murcia.

That's not discounting the incredible work of Valverde's teammate Samuel Sanchez, who towed the three sprinters away from the peloton in the last 500 metres. "Samuel was really brilliant," said Valverde. "He told me to use a 54 tooth chainring and a 12 tooth cog, but I finally decided on an 11 tooth cog. It was my fault, because I could not turn it."

A few days later, Valverde said, "The bronze medal is not bad, although I know that we were close to the gold, which will come soon."

At the end of the Vuelta, where he finished second, Valverde was tired, and that likely affected him at the World's. He will race again this season, but not just yet. "I don't believe that I'll race again until the Giro of Lombardia, because I am really tired psychologically after a very intensive season for me."

Valverde is the current ProTour leader with 285 points, whereas his nearest rival is Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto) on 162, and Andrey Kashechkin (Astana) on 156.

Valverde's Caisse d'Epargne teammates will be in action this weekend at the Championship of Zurich, with Vladimir Efimkin, Iván Gutiérrez, Pablo Lastras, Nicolas Portal, Mikel Pradera, Fran Pérez, Vicente Reynes and Joaquím Rodríguez all part of the line up, directed by José Luis Jaimerena.

World's retro: One for the money, two for the show

Paolo Bettini (ITA)
Photo ©: Andrea Hübner
(Click for larger image)

Paolo Bettini proudly waved his homeland's flag after being crowned world champion in the Elite Men's Road Race last weekend but, as Les Woodland recounts, patriotism at the worlds hasn't always been on the forefront of competitors' minds.

So Paolo Bettini is champion of the world and Italians are happy. It's about time because decades can pass without Italy being wholly content about what goes on at the world championship. Either the wrong man won, or the right people rode for the wrong man, or an Italian didn't win at all. But believe me, this is nothing compared to how it used to be in France.

Fast-wind back 40 years. There are still good Italians but the focus of international cycling is further north. Belgium has the classics winners and big sprinters, like Rik van Looy, and a rising talent in Eddy Merckx. France has the Tour winner, Jacques Anquetil, and his perpetual runner-up, Raymond Poulidor.

Time and again, the French enrolled Anquetil and Poulidor for the world championship without either of them winning. Poulidor won widely-spaced bronzes - two of them - and a silver, but Anquetil never once stood on the rostrum... until 1966, when he stood in second place with Poulidor beneath him.

And yet either man should have won. And Poulidor would have had it not been for Anquetil. If you think it smells of skulduggery, you're dead right.

Click here for the full feature

Belgian federation wants more from the "Dedecker file"

With the municipal elections in Belgium coming up in just over a week, VLD senator Jean-Marie Dedecker has been making headlines with his public allegations that several top Belgian cyclists were involved in doping in Italy in February. At first, Dedecker said that he had knowledge that four cyclists used or asked for EPO, but now it seems that he has information about some 20 people (riders, soigneurs and dealers) who are involved in doping in Belgian cycling.

The Belgian cycling federation's prosecutor Jaak Fransen met with the senator on the basis of his initial allegations with the view to starting a possible investigation into the affair. According to Sportwereld, Dedecker and Fransen agreed not to make any of the names public, and Fransen was of the opinion that the information "is too light at the moment" to proceed. However, Fransen was not then aware of senator Dedecker's "full dossier" which named some 20 people, and has been given to Johan Sabbe, a magistrate specialising in drug matters. He has asked for this now.

According to Dedecker, Johan Sabbe will open an investigation into the matter, and this may or may not affect what the Belgian federation does. "If it appears that there is enough evidence, then we will open an investigation without waiting for the criminal investigation, and possibly start proceedings against people," Fransen was quoted by Sportwereld as saying. "We have to be sure, in order not to risk damaging anyone by unjust accusations."

It's also possible that the Belgian federation will wait for the criminal investigation to finish, as it does not have the same powers as the Belgian court authorities.

Circuit Franco-Belge: Last Euro stage race of the year

The 66th edition of the Circuit Franco-Belge is the last European stage race of the season, and takes place between September 28 and October 1. The four stages are all point-to-point road races, and there is no time trial. The race starts in Maubeuge, in the north part of France, on Thursday with a 175.8 km stage that ends in Quiévrain. Friday will see the riders go from Ghyvelde to Poperinge over 172.9 km of Belgian territory, followed by a 181 km stage between Mouscron and Dottignies on Saturday. Sunday's stage starts in Cuesmes and finishes in Tournai after 161.1 km.

The team line up is impressive, with 12 ProTour teams, three Pro Continental, and six Continental/National teams taking part. Quick.Step will be looking at getting their sprinters Steven de Jongh and Wouter Weylandt up for wins, while Davitamon has more of an attacking team with Bert Roesems, Henk Vogels and Nico Mattan. T-Mobile has fast men in Olaf Pollack, Mark Cavendish, and AG2R has JP Nazon and Tomas Vaitkus. Jaan Kirsipuu and Mark Renshaw will be the keys in Credit Agricole, and Rabobank has Graeme Brown for the fast finishes. Luke Roberts (CSC) has shown a bit of form recently, as has Baden Cooke (Unibet), and Nico Eeckhout will be riding in the Belgian champion's colours for Chocolade Jacques.

The stages

Stage 1 - September 28: Maubeuge-Quiévrain, 175,8 km
Stage 2 - September 29: Ghyvelde-Poperinge, 172,9 km
Stage 3 - September 30: Mousron-Dottenijs, 181 km
Stage 4 - October 1: Cuesmes-Tournai, 161,1 km

Phonak for Zurich

The Phonak Cycling Team will be competing in its last home race at the Züri-Metzgete on Sunday, October 1. With last year's winner and newly crowned world champion Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step) present, along with Swiss time-trial world champion Fabian Cancellara (CSC) and Vuelta champion Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana), it promises to be a tough race.

Last year, Phonak's best placed rider was Gregory Rast, who was 11th and benefited from the adverse weather conditions. "But it's going to be difficult for me to repeat that good result because the very demanding race in terms of its topography – with a climb up Pfannenstiel as the main hurdle – isn't well-suited for me."

He is still looking forward to the home race and the support of his family and fans who will be there, and is trying to approach the race like any other. He is also aware that this will be one of his last races with Phonak, but isn't sad yet. "At the last race of the season, the Tour of Lombardy, things will be different because it hurts that the time with Phonak Cycling is coming to an end."

Full team roster: Aurélien Clerc, Martin Elmiger, Steve Morabito, Gregory Rast, Florian Stalder, Johann Tschopp, Uros Murn and Victor Hugo Peña. Management: John Lelangue, Adriano Baffi, Monika Zürcher.

IPC Cycling to become part of UCI

The Sport Forum of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) voted on September 14 to transfer governance of IPC Cycling to the UCI in future. The vote came after the UCI contacted the IPC in 2005 informing them of its intention to assume the governance and management of cycling for riders with disabilities. In 2002, an agreement had already been signed between the two organizations to enable "a successful collaboration in cycling for riders with disabilities."

The IPC Governing Board will ratify the transfer of governance at its next meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in November.

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