First Edition Cycling News for April 10, 2007
Edited by Greg Johnson & Ben Abrahams, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer
ASO's Unibet.com snub expands to Belgian events as Tour nears
When Unibet.com was left off the invitation list for the Dauphiné Libéré earlier this month, the team's directeur sportif Hilaire Van der Schuere asked Sportwereld: "Will we thus also get turned down for the Flèche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Tour [de France]?"
Just a week later, two of those three fears have been realised, with French race organiser Amaury Sport Organisation snubbing the Swedish registered ProTour team for Liège-Bastogne-Liège and La Flèche Wallonne, according to an AFP report.
ASO, which also organizes the Tour de France, has maintained its stance against Unibet.com, saying that the squad's sponsor, an online gaming company, violates French law. The company has said that by inviting the squad to participate it would be breaking French law and could be charged for doing so.
While Liège-Bastogne-Liège and La Flèche Wallonne are on Belgian soil, ASO has outlined that the European nation has similar laws to France and for this reason it is again prohibited from inviting the squad. The news comes after Belgian national lottery Lotto announced last month it would take legal action against Unibet.com.
"We have a monopoly on Belgian gambling," a spokesperson for the national lottery told Tuttobiciweb.com last month. "Unibet is not authorized to develop its business, nor publicize it in Belgium. From here begins the problems of Unibet.com."
ASO has held firm on its stance, despite Unibet.com providing alternatives such as the now famous unbranded question mark jersey it ran on French soil earlier this year. While the squad has contested events on French soil in Unibet.com branding in years gone by, a French court recently upheld ASO's decision not to invite the squad to participate in the Paris-Roubaix under a law passed in 1836 which protects the state's monopoly on gambling.
This latest decision by ASO is likely to further anger team director Jacques Hanegraaf, who said after the Dauphiné Libéré, organised by the Le Dauphiné Libéré newspaper, announcement: "This cannot go on. I expect action from the UCI."
Having paid the multi-million Euro bond to become a ProTour team, Unibet.com is entitled, in theory, an invite to every round of the ProTour. Instead, it has been left out of Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico, Paris-Roubaix, Dauphiné and now Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
If ASO continues to follow precedent, Unibet.com could well be forced to watch as its rivals contest the jewel in cycling's crown, July's Tour de France.
Boonen to start Gent-Wevelgem
Tom Boonen is still in pain from his heavy fall in the Ronde van Vlaanderen but the Quick.Step leader has decided to start Gent-Wevelgem on Wednesday in order to test himself once more in competition before trying to avenge his Ronde defeat in Paris-Roubaix next weekend. "I don't know how the situation will evolve, but we will just have to see," the big Belgian told Sporza.
Boonen's good fortune in recent Rondes finally ran out when he fell heavily near Kortrijk after just 60km, injuring his left wrist and knees. On Monday, Boonen spent two hours training near his hometown of Balen but was still in some discomfort. "I'll be able to ride my bike but I don't know how the situation could evolve in the next few days," he said. "In Gent-Wevelgem I will see how my wrists and knees hold up during competition."
Quick.Step have announced a revised roster for the midweek semi-classic, replacing Sébastien Rosseler and Steven De Jongh with Peter Van Petegem and Kevin Hulsmans. Inflammation in his left knee has been cited as the reason for Rosseler's replacement while De Jongh is believed to have come down with the flu.
Quick.Step for Gent-Wevelgem: Tom Boonen, Wilfried Cretskens, Peter Van Petegem, Kevin Hulsmans, Gert Steegmans, Matteo Tosatto, Kevin Van Impe and Wouter Weylandt.
Team CSC's Matti Breschel was happy to come out of the Ronde van Vlaanderen with no broken bones - the Dane crashed hard on the approach to the Oude Kwaremont climb but hopes to recover for the remaining Spring Classics. "Of course it's too bad, what happened, but I have to remain positive and hope that I'll be ready for Gent-Wevelgem and Paris-Roubaix," he said on the team's website, team-csc.com.
"My arm still hurts quite a bit and it's black and blue around the elbow. When I was lying there on the asphalt I kept thinking I'd broken it, because it hurt so bad - and still does - every time I try to move my hand. But luckily the x-rays showed no signs of any fractures."
Breschel isn't yet sure whether he will be ready to race again this week or not. "I can't quite hold on to the bike probably yet so I'll stick to the home-trainer for now, and then we'll have to wait and see if it's any better tomorrow. It's no use me being in the race on Wednesday if I'm not one hundred percent, but I really hope this will pass quickly because I'm in great shape at the moment."
The crash occurred during the craziness that is the Ronde van Vlaanderen. "It was during the fight for positions ahead of Oude Kwaremont - it got a bit crazy like always," he explained. "There were cars parked by the side of the road, but the riders were all over the place - in between the spectators, on the bike path on the other side of the cars and on the road. All of a sudden someone came out from the bike path wanting to get back onto the road, which resulted in him crashing right in front of me, and there was absolutely nothing I could do."
Valverde satisfied with País Vasco start
By Antonio J. Salmerón
Caisse d'Epargne team leader Alejandro Valverde was pleased with his teammates efforts in the opening stage of Spain's Vuelta al País Vasco, which saw three of the squad's riders finish in the top ten. Pablo Lastras was apart of an break group of four, which played a crucial roll in the stage, won by Saunier Duval-Prodir's Juan José Cobo.
"The most important thing is that I feel very well," said Valverde after the stage. "My team-mates worked very hard today, so that I am very satisfied for that."
Constantino Zaballa was the highest placed Caisse d'Epargne rider in second, with Valverde taking sixth while Joaquím Rodríguez took eighth place.
Valverde believes that today's second stage will be crucial in deciding who will contend for overall victory in the six-stage ProTour race.
"For me, it is the most important one," he noted. "It will be very hard".
Ciolek out of luck in Köln
T-Mobile did everything it could to set up a bunch sprint for young Gerald Ciolek in his hometown race, the Rund um Köln on Easter Monday, but a wave through the peloton in the last kilometre brought the sprinter down, and he ended up crossing the finish line in 103rd place.
"I'm even more disappointed because it happened here in Köln." the 20 year-old told German press agency dpa. "But I don't need a psychiatrist to get over it, I just need a few bandages."
Directeur sportif Jan Schaffrath was satisfied with T-Mobile's performance, despite their best placed finisher being Andre Greipel in 27th. "I have to compliment the team, which worked very well," he told t-mobile-team.com. "Everything went according to plan, but when it comes to a mass sprint, there is always the danger of a crash."
Greipel also fell victim to a crash early in the race, but continued riding despite multiple bruises in order to help Ciolek in the finale. He was taken to the hospital for x-rays, but the results are not yet available.
Volksbank's big day in Köln
Austrian Professional Continental squad Team Volksbank celebrated a successful outing in Monday's Rund um Köln with a ninth place finish from German Rene Weissinger and a rider in the day's big escape. Weissinger got great support in the finale from leadout man Gerrit Glomser but got caught behind a crash near the finish that cost him several places.
"Glomser brought me into the sprint perfectly," said Weissinger. "About 200 meters before the finish line, several riders crashed right in front of me. I had to come to a full stop. Too bad, otherwise I would have finished in the top five. But I can be satisfied with ninth place. It's a good result, and a sensational experience before such a large public."
Team-mate Pascal Hungerbühler had much more TV time than Weissinger - the Swiss rider was part of a breakaway group that led for more than 100 kilometres before being caught 50 kilometres from the finish. "Our guys delivered a great race," said directeur sportif Patrick Vetsch. "At breakfast they were already highly motivated and self-confident. After the start they followed my instructions perfectly. Pascal animated the race, Rene brought us a perfect ending. That's the way to work."
Aussie national champion favourite for Tour of the Southern Grampians
Reigning Australian Road Race Champion Darren Lapthorne will be odds on favourite for this weekend's Great Doherty Tour of the Southern Grampians, in Victoria Australia. The fourth running of the event has received a record number of entries, with some 256 riders expected to take on the event in Coleraine.
The 2007 event will feature some new stages, including the Bendigo Community Bank time trial and the Coleraine CBD Criterium.
Former event winners Mark O'Brien and defending champion Jason Hegert will be among those contesting this year's event. Also lining up for the tour is a five-strong Drapac-Porsche team, Victorian Institute of Sport riders and the Savings & Loans Credit Union team. Commonwealth Games champion Sean Finning will make his debut at this tour.
In the women's category, defending champion Deborah Fagg returns to try and make it two in a row, but will be strongly challenged by the likes of Peta Mullens and Kathy Watt. The women's field has a record 20 riders in 2007.
All races will begin from the Community Parklands adjacent the old Railway Station Tourist Centre, McConochie St, Coleraine.
Cyclingnews.com online production editors required - Europe & Australia
Work on the world's leading cycling web site
April 10, 2007: Cyclingnews, the world's leading cycling web site, is expanding and is looking for two full time online production editors. One position will be based in its office in Gent, Belgium, while the other is based in Sydney, Australia.
The position requires applicants to have a keen interest and thorough knowledge of competitive cycling, as well as editorial or writing experience with excellent English skills. The position will involve producing reports, results, photos and features from the world of cycling, so fluency in a second language is also an advantage, as is a familiarity with online production techniques.
The applicants will need to be self-starters as the position involves regular liaison with production editors in all Cyclingnews offices. As Cyclingnews is a 24/7 daily news operation, the position will require regular weekend work. The weekend duties are handled on a rotating shift basis with other production editors, so the applicant must be flexible in their work schedule. However, the majority of work will be done during normal business hours on week-days.
The online editors will be required to have familiarity with online production applications (a good working knowledge of HTML and Photoshop are important skills) and could also be required to attend major cycling events in each region. However, the primary responsibility is the production of content for publication on the web site. Training in online production techniques can be provided to the right applicant, ability to handle the technical processes involved and an ability to communicate.
In your application, please outline your location as we are primarily looking for persons who reside in each specific country, and in the case of Europe, have English as a first language (or be very fluent if not). Please send your CV with a covering letter via email to firstname.lastname@example.org with "Online editing position - (specific region)" in the subject line.
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