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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for December 5, 2007

Edited by Paul Verkuylen

Pinotti expects to show off tricolore in TT-laden Giro

By Gregor Brown in Milan

Marco Pinotti (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: Sirotti
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Marco Pinotti expects he will have ample chance to show off his time trial national jersey at the 2008 Giro d'Italia. The 31 year-old from Bergamo was at the course unveiling Saturday night in Milano. The wearer of the maglia rosa in 2007 was pleased to see that the organisers RCS Sport included plenty of stages for those that go well against the clock.

"There are enough time trial kilometres, even if the Plan de Corones is a mountain time trial," Pinotti told Cyclingnews as we stood toward the back of Teatro degli Arcimboldi. "I like the team time trial in Sicily and the one in Urbino, and also the last one [to Milano] - for me it is a good Giro. I prefer that the Giro ends in a time trial than a sprint stage, even if the sprint stage is more suitable for the last day; it is like a party, but sometimes it is good for a change."

Although he finished second in the Italian Time Trial Championships last summer, he expects to finally be awarded the maglia tricolore of the winner due to Luca Ascani's positive test for EPO (Erythropoietin). The Team High Road rider hopes to show off the green, white and red jersey on the opening day, and in the following three time trials. "I hope to be finally racing in the Italian time trial jersey at that point," he noted. (A decision on Ascani's positive test was due in the afternoon of December 4. - ed.)

"I think [the route] is not balanced over three weeks, but concentrated on the last week - like two years ago. It could be harder than last year, but a lot of that depends on the way in which we ride the stages."

One of the demanding stages the riders will face is the penultimate day, a 224-kilometre run that will cover the Passo Gavia, the super-steep Passo del Mortirolo and the infamous Aprica before arriving in Tirano. "It is a hard stage because it follows after three or four other hard stages - it is also long.

"I think that when you have such long hard stages the competition is a little bit down-sized because the [overall competition] is already an individual race. Like two years ago, with the finish in Aprica: there were thirty riders really racing and the others were just hanging on. It is not always the hardest looking parcours that makes the best race, some times it is the average parcours that produces the most exciting Giro."

Pinotti is optimistic for 2008 even with the news last week of T-Mobile pulling out as the title sponsor. He believes that the closed T-Mobile chapter will open the way for new names in cycling.

"It was sad news for the team, but now we have to think about the future - that book is closed," he said. "We are hopeful that we can go forward, and the good thing is that the team continues on in the same philosophy; nothing is changing for us, the riders, we just changed shirts.

"It is a pity that a prestigious sponsor has left, but I belive it is an opportunity for a new sponsor to enter into cycling with its product. I believe that we are a most attractive team, and that we have the most reliable management in the whole ProTour. If some sponsor has doubts about cycling, then we are the team for them. A new sponsor can enter with a team where the hard work has already been done."

The team has a training camp coming this week, in Spain.

2008 ProTour teams no longer part of the ProTour
Photo ©: Sirotti
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The UCI has released the names of the 18 teams that will make up the ProTour in 2008. Nineteen licenses were applied for, with only not being approved.

There were 20 teams registered as ProTour teams in 2007, but thanks to the withdrawal of Discovery Channel cycling team only 19 teams applied for the 2008 license. Each year teams with a ProTour license must present a registration document to the UCI. The documents are required by the UCI to insure that each team can meet legal and financial requirements. failed to present the necessary documents to the UCI by the due date of November 20. As a result the chairman of the council of the UCI (CUPT) has, according to the rules, asked the license commission to begin a procedure to find out the reason behind the late submission of the request. may have stopped as sponsor, but manager Jacques Hanegraaf is still searching for new investors for the 2008 season.

The Astana team has been approved thanks to the guarantee from the Kazakh national federation and the new team management. Those guarantees are in respect to the obligations that were entered into by the previous sponsor as well as the fight against doping. Last year the Kazakh team was registered with a Swiss license, for 2008 they will be registered in Luxembourg.

Team High Road's (formerly T-Mobile) registration was approved, but is under review. The Council selected the team on basis of the documents filed on November 20 by T-Mobile. The UCI is expecting further information on the team management and from their accountants (Ernst & Young) in connection with the new structure, before the team is officially accepted.

The 18 teams that make up the 2008 ProTour are:
Ag2r-La Mondiale (Fra)
Astana (Lux)
Bouygues Telecom (Fra)
Caisse d'Epargne (Fra)
Cofidis (Fra)
Crédit Agricole (Fra)
CSC (Den)
Euskaltel-Euskadi (Spa)
Française des Jeux (Fra)
Gerolsteiner (Ger)
High Road (previously T-Mobile) (under review)
Lampre (Ita)
Liquigas (Ita)
Milram (Ita)
Quick.Step (Bel)
Rabobank (Ned)
Saunier Duval (Spa)
Silence-Lotto (Bel)

Damiano Cunego: Stepping back into the limelight

By Gregor Brown

Cunego, the 2004 Giro
Photo ©: AFP Photo
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Damiano Cunego had a solid year but it was not until the Giro di Lombardia in mid-October that many considered 2007 a success for the 2004 Giro d'Italia Champion. The 26 year-old Italian doubled up in the 'race of the falling leaves' to give merit to his season and supply the needed confidence for the coming 2008 year.

When you've won the Giro d'Italia before your 23rd birthday, each subsequent season can be a struggle to live up to expectations created by that success. Damiano Cunego's 2004 Giro win was nothing short of spectacular, but since then he's had to be content with wins outside the grand tours and his best young rider jersey in the 2006 Tour after struggling with mononucleosis in 2005.

This year, things began to look up for the young rider from Verona. Cunego took seventh in the Liège-Bastogne-Liège, a position that backed up his two stage wins in the Giro del Trentino. However, it was not until the Deutschland Tour when he took first-ever win in a ProTour race with the stage to Sonthofen. A break and the subsequent build up in the Vuelta a España worked perfectly for his season finale in the world championships and the Giro di Lombardia.

However, Cunego's autumn was almost destroyed with a crash in the opening stage of the Spanish grand tour. Cunego went down in the same crash that took out American Tom Danielson in stage one, but was able to push on and show enough form to gain a spot on Italy's squadra azzurra for the worlds team. Consistent riding and a near-stage win on stage 15 to Granada reassured national selector Franco Ballerini that Cunego could be a strong team member.

"I guess you could say I was fortunate to crash on the first day of the Vuelta," he said when we spoke two days before the worlds, September 28. "I took antibiotics, and went on, having massages for my legs. My leg was really stitched up. This went on for 10 days, it was hard to judge my condition, and I think I lost a little bit. After awhile I felt a little better. I had to find a little of the condition that I had beforehand."

He noted the painful details, "I had 13 stitches - five in the knee, five on the hip and three on the elbow. It was a bit of bad luck for me at the start of the Vuelta, but this happens.

"I would say the legs are going good. I want to complete this world championships, and then after we will see."

Read the full interview with Cunego here.

Maxime Monfort stays with Cofidis

Maxime Monfort has signed a new one year contract with the French team, Cofidis. The Belgian already had a contract that runs through the 2008 season. There has still been no light shed on whether the team will exist as Cofidis past the 2008 season. Monfort is hoping to start the Tour de France in 2008 and would also like to take part in the Olympics in Beijing.

Another Vanthourenhout goes pro

Cyclo-crosser, Dieter Vanthourenhout has signed a professional contract with the Palmans team that will take effect January 1 2008.

Vanthourenhout was under contract with the Easypay team, which has been managed by Dirk Vanopbroeke for one and a half years. "It is with sorrow that we see Vanthourenhout leave, but we couldn't match the offer that he received from Palmans," Vanopbroeke said.

The 22 year old will ride in the colours of Palmans as of the GP Sven Nys, being held on January 1. "I received an offer from the team a few days ago. I didn't have to consider it for very long. Certainly not as it was a pro contract. I can now concentrate fully on cyclo-cross. It is the intention that I gradually keep growing through the years," Vanthourenhout said.

Vanthourenhout has been having a break-out year, scoring top finishes in the Vlaamse Houtlandcross (4th), GP Stad Hasselt (7th) and Koksijde World Cup (11th). He is currently ranked 24th in the UCI rankings.

The young Belgian will ride alongside countrymen Niels Albert, Davy Commeyne and Tom Van Den Bosch as well as Czech rider Radomir Simunek.

"We wanted to have Dieter as our leader for next season. For that reason Easypay wanted to offer him a five year contract. Because we are not a continental team, Dieter can't ride any pro races," Vanopbroeke said

"We find it disappointing that he is leaving but we wish him success in his future pro career," Vanopbroeke said, who is now on the lookout for new talent to strengthen his team.

Big names to honour Peoples at Scotty's Race

The inaugural Scotty's Race, scheduled to take place this Sunday, December 9, to commemorate the untimely death of one of the most promising young Victorian cyclists, Scott Peoples, has attracted a strong field of elite riders all of whom want to pay tribute to the youngster.

Many of those entered have not ridden an open race for some five years, but are down to ride and pay their respects to the memory of Peoples.

"This is undoubtedly the best field to ever assemble in Victoria for a graded scratch race of this kind," Ian Maher, of Cyclesport Victoria said.

Scott was a talented young Shepparton cyclist killed tragically in a road accident in December last year. The inaugural 'Scotty's Race' is being staged in his honour by family, friends and the cycling community.

The field of more than 200 riders vying for their share of $5000 prize money will features some of Australia's finest local talent including Mitch Docker, Darren Lapthorne, Dean Windsor, Tim Dekker, Matt King, David Pell, David Tanner, Miles Olman, Peter McDonald who will line up with locals, Leigh Egan, Trent Stevenson and Scott's brother Rick Peoples.

The 126km graded scratch race will set out from the Queens Gardens in Shepparton at 9am and proceed to race through Violet Town, Nalinga and Shepparton before arriving back at the gardens around 11.45am. All proceeds will go to the Scott Peoples Foundation to develop junior cycling in regional Victoria.

Last week the foundation raised over $20,000 at a charity auction featuring Australian Sportsman of the Year and runner-up in the Tour de France Cadel Evans.

For more information about the race visit the official Scott Peoples Foundation website.

Sean Kelly team continues

By Shane Stokes

The Irish-registered, Belgium-based UCI Continental Sean Kelly racing team will continue in 2008, despite the decision by this year's sponsors Murphy and Gunn/Newlyn Group to stop backing the squad. General manager Kurt Bogaerts confirmed to Cyclingnews on Tuesday that a new sponsor is in place; more details about this are expected on Wednesday.

The team is based in the Sean Kelly Racing Academy in Merchtem, Belgium, and has primarily acted as a development team for young Irish and international cyclists. The riders competed in a number of high-level events in 2007, including the Tour of Qatar and the 2.1 ranked Tour of Ireland.

Bogaerts has confirmed that at least four Irishmen will be with the team this coming season, plus several riders from further afield. He still has some vacancies; those interested can contact him at +32 476675830.


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(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2007)