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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for August 22, 2007

Edited by Greg Johnson and Paul Verkuylen

Mayo's B sample opened

By Monika Prell

Iban Mayo (Saunier Duval-Prodir)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Iban Mayo's B sample from the Tour de France, where he tested non-negative for EPO, was opened yesterday in the University of Gent, Belgium in the presence of a specialist, at the Saunier Duval rider's request. It will take the laboratory three days before the result is known, with an announcement expected by Friday.

Mayo, who was tested non-negative to EPO on the second rest day of the Tour de France, could be penalised with a sanction of two years if found guilty of doping. Such a sanction could draw the Basque rider's career to a premature end, having celebrated his 30th birthday on Sunday.

After some bad seasons with his home team, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Mayo changed to Saunier Duval and won a stage of this year's Giro d'Italia. Since being informed of his non-negative test from his July 24 sample, Mayo has not spoken to any media, instead choosing to stay at home with his family while he waits for the B sample result.

Arrieta to start Vuelta with number one

Jose Luis Arrieta (AG2R)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Spanish rider José Luis Arrieta (AG2r Prévoyance) will start the Vuelta a España, where he won Stage 19 last year, on September 1 with number one on his jersey, according to Dutch paper De Telegraaf. Normally the reigning champion would receive the honour of wearing number one as the previous year's winner, but as Kazakh Alexandre Vinokourov will not be taking part this year - due to his non-negative test for blood doping following the Tour de France's Stage 13 time trial - Vuelta organiser Unipublic has decided to assign the start numbers in alphabetical order of team name.

As a result of Unipublic's decision French squad AG2r Prévoyance team will be wearing the numbers one through nine.

For the third time this season, a Grand Tour organisation has had to assign the top number to a rider to someone other than the winner of the previous edition of their respective races. From 2006's Grand Tour winners, namely Giro d'Italia winner Ivan Basso, Tour de France winner Floyd Landis and Vuelta a España victor Alexandre Vinokourov, none have started the Grand Tour they won last year following their respective involvements in doping investigations or having registered non-negative results.

Italian Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step - Innergetic) was given the honour of wearing number one at this year's Giro, as the reigning world and Olympic champion, while the Tour organisers decided not to assign the start number one to any rider, instead choosing to begin the numbering with 11. Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne), who rolled across the line second in Paris last year and is still waiting to hear the result of Landis' arbitration hearing, wore the number 11 jersey at this year's race.

Euskaltel names Vuelta ten

By Monika Prell

With less than two weeks until the start of this year's final Grand Tour, Spain's Vuelta a España, Basque squad Euskaltel-Euskadi has announced ten riders who be considered for the team's final roster. The team's leader is Asturian Samuel Sánchez, who is focusing on the Vuelta and the World Championships following a strong start of the season. The 29 year-old finished seventh overall at last year's Vuelta, after taking victory on Stage 13 between Guadalajara and Cuenca.

In addition to Sánchez, Haimar Zubeldia, who rode a strong Tour de France to finish fifth, and the young hope Igor Antón are all but confirmed for the final lineup. Veteran Iñigo Landaluze and sprinters Iñaki Isasi and Koldo Fernández de Larrea have a strong chance to make the final cut while Aitor Hernández, Dionisio Galparsoro, Juan José Oroz and Alan Pérez are fighting for the final positions in the nine man squad.

The team will be under the supervision of Sports director Gorka Gerrikagoitia.

Wiesenhof's future uncertain

By Susan Westemeyer

Team Wiesenhof-Felt has responded to comments from team manager Jens Heppner that the team will close its doors, saying that discussions regarding the squad's future were ongoing. Heppner had told press agency sid that the team hadn't found a replacement sponsor for the outgoing Wiesenhof and it would cease operations. "There's no point," he said. "I have done everything I can, but without success. The riders who dope and the television reporting with its total concentration on doping have destroyed cycling in Germany."

The 42 year-old indicated that he would leave cycling completely when the organisation closes. "I'm not worried about my future," he said. "I have taken care of that. But I am sorry for the riders and other personnel. They are left out in the cold and don't know how things will go."

The team has vigorously denied those statements, however, releasing a statement saying that it was still working hard to find a new sponsor and that future plans were yet to be confirmed. "We're still in the middle of discussions," Raphael Schweda, the team's business director said. The team's press release noted that it hoped recent decisions by T-Mobile and Milram to continue sponsorships within the sport would send a positive signal to potential sponsors. The press released also said that Heppner would stay with the team if a new sponsor is found.

A relief for Gilbert

By Jean-François Quénet

Philippe Gilbert (FdJ)
Photo ©: Régis Garnier
(Click for larger image)

Last year's winner of Belgian opening classic Het Volk Philippe Gilbert (Française des Jeux) had been forced to wait for eight months before collecting his first win of the 2007 season, but it finally came on the Tour du Limousin's Stage 1. Gilbert out sprinted Pierrick Fedrigo (Bouygues Telecom), Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne), Clément L'Hôtellerie (Skil-Shimano) and Anthony Charteau (Crédit Agricole).

The Belgian had a rough summer, suffering a virus during the Tour de France, and then was a non-starter in the Pyrénées after enduring a day alone in front of the broom wagon. He recovered enough to claim the silver medal in the Belgian Time Trial Championship, despite a crash in the finale. All of those pains were lifted as he raised his arms in victory, except for one which became apparent during his victory salute. "My shoulder is still painful", he said after winning in La Souterraine.

Gilbert was happy to have finally won this season. "With 18 kilometers to go, six of us went away," Gilbert explained. "I was fortunate to have Benoît [Vaugrenard, French Time Trial Champion] with me. He did a superb job when he led me out 300 metres from the finish. It wasn't an easy sprint to win. I felt [Oscar] Pereiro was really strong and [Pierrick] Fedrigo is also a fast finisher. But I'm really happy with this win."

Soaky team presentation for Regio Tour

By Bjorn Haake

Buckets of water came down for the first part of the team presentation for the 2007 Rothaus Regio Tour, but as the favourite teams were announced the rain ceased and the hope is it will stay that way for the rest of the week. Herbert Watterott, who has commentated the Tour de France 41 times for German public TV channel ARD, led through the program at the presentation.

The 16 squads came onto the podium individually, with each rider receiving a rose and a kiss from the podium girls before they had even won a stage.

Dirk Müller from Team Sparkasse, the 2006 German champion, revealed that his girlfriend liked the fact that he didn't wear the champion's jersey anymore. "The white was harder to wash," is how Müller put the fact that having to go back to the red jersey of his team wasn't entirely bad. His directeur sportif, Erik Weispfennig, declared the teams intension for this week's race was to take an upset victory. "We want to see if we can upset the big teams a bit," he said. "We'll look for stage wins, but also try for the overall."

Alexander Gut (Atlas Romer's Hausbäckerei) virtually lives on the infamous 'Texas Pass' that the peloton will endure a whopping six times during the event's final stage. Gut doesn't believe his local knowledge will provide him with any advantage on the 169.1 kilometre stage, as he's not known as a climber. "I like riding it in training, I wouldn't even mind racing it, if the others would go a little bit slower," he laughed.

Atlas Romer's Hausbäckerei team-mate, Björn Thurau, is frequently asked about his father, Didi, who spent 15 days in yellow at the 1977 Tour de France. But any pressure that at some point he has to perform like his dad did, he rejected. "I am Björn Thurau," was his simple recipe on how he keeps down to earth.

Having already won the event in 2005, Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner's Nico Sijmens has the chance to join Laurent Brochard, who took victory in 1994 and 2002, as a dual champion. "I have prepared well and the legs are good," said the Belgian, showing that he considers the feat a possibility.

Torsten Schmidt, who has completed Giro d'Italia and Tour de France in one season, said that nothing compares to the Tour and the feeling of riding up the Champs-Elysées is "indescribable". His Wiesenhof-Felt team-mate Jörg Ludewig, who also has done some Grand Tours, feels he still has a few more years left in the sport. "Another two or three years," he said. "The sport has had a rough time and I would like to fight for it."

Acqua & Sapone-Caffe Mokambo has put its hopes for the five stage race on Gabriele Balducci, who has a high end-speed. In Laurent Didier it also has a famous son, that of Luxemburger Lucien Didier, in its ranks.

Germany's Under 23 team arrived at the event straight off the back of a high altitude camp in Livigno. Despite their young age the squad has already some combined successes - most importantly Dominik Roels, who not only has already won the German Under 23 championships, but also came in fourth at his country's title games in his first year with the professionals.

Tinkoff came fresh from a successful Vuelta a Burgos, with stage wins for both, Vasil Kiryenka and Mikhail Ignatiev. Ignatiev told Cyclingnews that he will see how the first stage goes before making a decision of how the rest of the course will be laid out for him. "The time trial course may be a little bit too long and too hilly for me," said Ignatiev. "I did get second at the time trial in the Vuelta a Burgos, but it was straight and flat."

Gerolsteiner was present with Swiss champion Beat Zberg and Torsten Hiekmann, who won the final stage last year. Matthias Russ will be very motivated as he lives in the area. "I think stage two maybe something for me," said Russ. "It's an area that has some rollers. Maybe I don't have the kick after a tough [Deutschland] tour: we will see."

As Russ spoke he saw Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) walk by and, realising that the Australian was in the race, added: "Oh, he will be the favourite, of course."

Rogers, who had arrived just the day before from China and acknowledged that "Oh yeah, I am still jet-lagged," also thought that the course should suit him. "I think it's fairly similar to last year. About the Beijing time trial course the Australian time trial specialist was saying "it's very hard. 10 kilometres straight up."

Roger's team-mate Marcus Burghardt revealed that "I was virtually on the plane to Ireland [to contend the Tour of Ireland -ed.], but after talking to the management we changed the plan." Under the cheers of the spectators the young German, who just completed his first Tour de France and couldn't even be stopped by a dog that brought him down, he declared that "For a German to race in Germany that is just the greatest."

T-Mobile is the only team that will start the race with six instead of eight riders. The German squad has been stretched thin by signing up for the Eneco Tour and Tour of Ireland and desperately wanting to compete in the Regio Tour, since it's on home soil. They would have had enough riders, but after Canadian Michael Barry came down sick and Eric Baumann broke his shoulder blade there were no substitutes left to fill the team.

Aranaga out of Euskaltel-Euskadi in 2008

By Monika Prell

Andoni Aranaga won't form part of Euskaltel-Euskadi in 2008, according to todociclismo. After two years with the squad, the 28 year-old didn't fulfil the expectations of Miguel Madariaga and Igor González de Galdeano, the highest responsible persons of the Basque team.

Aranaga joined the squad in 2006, having spent a season each at the Chocolade Jacques and Kaiku squads. Team sources have reported that the rider had also failed to eliminate his weight problems.

Coming to America

More and more riders make careers in America
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Europe is home to the most prestigious races cycling has to offer; Tour de France, Paris-Roubaix, Amstel Gold Race, Milano – Sanremo – take your pick, they are all there. Yet young Australian and New Zealand riders are flocking to race in the United States of America, Cyclingnews' Greg Johnson finds out what's behind the trend setting rider's decisions to buck the traditional route.

Earth's 243 other countries could learn a lot from the way the United States of America does sport. It's a nation where sporting team budgets often exceed the gross domestic product of small countries, where outrunning the law on moonshine runs forms the base of a multi-billion dollar sport. Yes, the almighty US of A knows that sport is a business and like any business it must build, market and sell a product (being entertainment); its approach to cycling is no different.

While certainly a factor, it's not just the money associated with sport on US soil that's drawn the signatures of up and coming cyclists from Down Under to American Continental and Professional Continental squads. For some it's the lifestyle, others the flexibility and for a few it is a financially viable alternate to slogging it out in the lower ranks in Europe in hopes of being noticed by a ProTour or top European squad. Whatever the draw, the riders from the land down under have given the US peloton a distinctly different accent.

New Zealand's Glen Chadwick isn't the only rider from Down Under on his Navigators Insurance Professional Continental squad - he has two Australians, Hilton Clarke and Ben Day, also riding for the team. Chadwick, who has raced for teams in Europe, Asia and now America, said he would find it difficult returning to the mentality of a European squad having raced in the US. "With Navigators I have the best of both worlds, I reside in Belgium, ride for an American team who bases themselves in Belgium three of four months each year, so I can live at home," he said. "I get to race here in Europe and do some really hard and good racing, then jump over the pond and race flat out in some pretty cool races throughout America."

Like Chadwick, Clarke sees a lot of positive reasons for Down Under riders to join the American scene. "In Europe, if you don't make the cut, that is it," said Clarke. "You can race for nothing and survive on baked beans and muesli or you can come to the US, the land of opportunity. With so many new teams starting and Australians having such a good reputation here, there seems to be many spots to start your career on a base wage.

To read the full feature on Australians in America, click here.

New Australian squad launched

By Paul Verkuylen

The team is set up to develop up and coming riders.
Photo ©: Team Two Wheel Industries
(Click for larger image)

A new Australian-based team has emerged from the coastal New South Wales city of Newcastle, with the squad hoping to build into a Professional Continental squad over the next three years. With a thriving cycling scene, local businesses have come together to form the base for a development squad with the aim of evolve young riders and prepare them for the step up to racing on the European or American scene.

Team Two Wheel Industries has been established by local bike shop owner Marek Jankowski. The entrepreneur has experience working with some top international teams in France and Poland, having worked with Cofidis and Mroz.

The team has modest ambitions for the remainder of this season but will be hoping to step up a notch next season by signing some more higher profile riders. The team, which already features the brother of T-Mobile women's team rider Oenone Wood, Jarrett Wood, is aiming at competitive appearances in Australian events such as the Timbercorp Cup and the Jayco Bay Series in Victoria. Management is also hoping the squad will have the chance to contest events abroad next season, with New Zealand's Tour of the Southlands one of its main objectives.

Mathew Camilleri wins stage at the tour of Tamworth.
Photo ©: Team Two Wheel Industries
(Click for larger image)

The squad has gained the backing of local businesses such as Newcastle Scrap Metal in addition to that of nation-wide organisations like Defence Jobs, whom has a strong presence in Newcastle due to the nearby Williamtown Air Force base.

Following a successful first outing in the Tamworth two day tour, where Mathew Camilleri and Wood took stage wins, as well as Matt Johns' King of the Mountains jersey, the team will be sending riders to the Grafton to Inverell and the Goulburn to Citi in September. The two events will allow the squad's riders to gain more experience against some of Australia's best riders in the two toughest events in NSW. Another major target for 2007 will be the Hunter Regional Trust Kermesse race later in the season.

The team includes a mix of Elite and Under 23 riders in addition to a handful of promising juniors and women, in keeping with its focus on building talent in the local area.

Team Two Wheel Industries: Nick Chevalley (U23), Jarrett Wood, Mathew Camilleri (U23), Matthew Johns, Scott Wines, Lewis Garland (U23), Duncan Kidd, Richard Munro Patrick Kilmurray (U23), Brendan Lachlan (U19)
Women: Kate Finagen, Jacinta Aitken (U19)
Veterans: Michael Rand, Robert Chapman
Team Managers: Marek Jankowski, Carl Thompson

Aussie Junior making waves in Holland

By Paul Verkuylen

Young Australian junior rider Joseph Lewis has began producing strong results in Europe after narrowly missing out on selection for the national Junior World championships team which competed in Mexico earlier this month. After missing out on the national squad Lewis made arrangements to ride out the rest of his final junior season with a prominent Dutch junior squad, de Volharding, which has seen many Australians pass through its ranks.

Lewis, who hails from the regional New South Wales town of Gloucester, took a few weeks to get accustomed to the European racing but quickly realised what he needed to do in order to be competitive. In one of his first major junior events for the team, the Trofee Von Vlaanderen, the junior version of the Tour of Flanders, Lewis finished mid pack taking the race as a positive learning experience.

"This race was one which I had raced nothing like it before, the wind, large number of riders, high speed and narrow roads made it one of the hardest races I have ever done," he told Cyclingnews. "The trick to these races is to just ride hard at the front, as being in the front group and working is better than being 50 places back and getting dropped because you cannot get any protection from the side wind as the bunch is already in the gutter."

The following weekend during the Johan Museeuw classic in Gistel, Lewis finished a strong 15th, after chasing down the lead group of 14 during the final 15 kilometres, slashing their one minute 10 second advantage to just 10 seconds by the finish.

Only days later Lewis lined up for the junior support race at the Drai Van De Kai in Roosendaal, one of the largest post Tour criteriums in Holland. With nine laps remaining in the race, Lewis attacked and was able to hold off the chasers till the finish, to claim his first victory in Europe.

His next target, the Tour of Antwerp, a four day event in Belgium, saw him finish in the lead group on the first stage, leading out his team-mate for the win, and taking seventh overall himself. Stage two saw him have some bad luck when he crashed and lost a lot of skin from his backside and slipping to 11th overall.

In stage three he faired much better, getting away in the last 10km to finish in fourth on the stage and take third on general classification.

Going into the final stage, Lewis was aiming to attack, in an attempt to take overall honours, but the high speeds quashed any ideas he had. In the final kilometre, a crash only a few riders in front of him brought down a large chuck of the peloton including Lewis. The crash snapped his bike in two, but Lewis still wheeled himself across the line in order to gain the time of the bunch, eventually finishing fifth overall.

His next major goal in the Tour of Munsterland, a 2.1 category junior event in Germany.

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