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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, December 16, 2007

Edited by Laura Weislo

2009 Tour de France's stages in Monaco confirmed

Prince Albert II of Monaco
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The 2009 Tour de France will kick off from the tiny Mediterranean Principality of Monaco, the race's organiser officially announced the Grand Tour's first few stages Friday. The Grand Départ will start with a 15-kilometre time trial that will take place partly on the world-renowned Monaco Grand Prix circuit, July 4, making 2009 the fifth year Monaco has hosted a stage of the Tour.

The time trial will begin on the Boulevard Albert I over part of the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix circuit, and then head up a long, gradual climb to kilometre 7.2 with a section as steep as 10%. The course will exit Monaco and loop through France, reaching its highest elevation (207 metres) before returning to Monaco to the finish along the Mediterranean coast near the Rainier III Water Sports Stadium.

The race's second stage on July 5 will also launch from Monaco. In past years, stages in Monaco have fallen between the Alpine and Pyrenean stages, but 2009 will be the first time the country has held the Grand Départ.

Monaco is just one of many foreign locations which have petitioned race organiser ASO (Amaury Sport Organisation) to have the Tour de France visit, and had its request granted in November. The Tour organisers have reportedly received proposals from Scotland, Qatar and even Japan for the 2010 edition.

Stage winners in Monaco:
1939: Stage 12: Saint-Raphaël - Monaco, Maurice Archambaud (Fra), Stage 13: Monaco - Monaco, Pierre Gallien (Fra)
1952: Stage 12: Sestrières - Monaco, Jan Nolten (Ned)
1953: Stage 16: Marseille - Monaco, Wim Van Est (Ned)
1955: Stage 9: Briançon - Monaco, Raphaël Géminiani (Fra)
1964: Stage 9: Briançon - Monaco, Jacques Anquetil (Fra)


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by AFP Photo

Evans starts training for '08 Tour

By Greg Johnson in Adelaide, South Australia

Cadel Evans
Photo ©: John Veage
(Click for larger image)

Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto) has already started his preparations for the 2008 Tour de France after taking a short end of season break. The Australian returned to the bike several weeks ago to begin building a rhythm aimed at the French Grand Tour and the Beijing Olympics. The 2007 Tour runner-up spent Friday testing wheels for next season in Adelaide before claiming three awards at that evening's Cycling Australia awards – including the prestigious Sir Hubert Opperman Trophy.

"All the celebrations are well and truly over now, the only thing I'm thinking of now is getting ready for that race in July in France, then China," said the determined former mountain biker. "The longest ride so far has been 130 kilometres, so pretty decent training. It's getting from the 'just going for a nice ride' to the 'starting to make you tired' stage."

Evans has been back in training mode for three weeks, with the newly crowned ProTour champion keen on going one better at next year's French Grand Tour. "It's normal for me, it's kind of early for a Tour rider, but it's normal for me," added Evans of his return to training.

While Evans' coach is currently in Australia on a business trip, the Predictor-Lotto rider hasn't done any structured training with the Italian. "Our structure is a little bit different, we speak by phone and meet occasionally, but it's mostly by fax and e-mail all the communication," he said. "I have a pretty good idea of what I've got to do and he just puts in some structure to that."

Despite his stellar season in 2007, Evans doesn't feel any additional pressure heading into 2008. "No, I get the feeling a few people will be watching but we'll go there do what we can and we'll see," he said.

Evans' accomplishments this season have seen the 30 year-old become a household name throughout his homeland, an impressive feat in a mega sporting year for the Pacific nation which has seen its athletes claim the MotoGP world championship and also claim the men's and women's world surfing crowns. Despite being in increasing demand throughout the year, Evans was appreciative of the respect he's been shown since arriving back in Australia.

"People have certainly been a lot more lenient," he noted. "One of the nice things about having the Tour televised live all day every day is people realise what you do. Our job is quite energy and time consuming, so people have been a lot more lenient in that regard. It's nice to have a little bit of respect, but also a chance to be a human being."

The Predictor-Lotto rider added that the chance to "be a human being" was something he didn't get much throughout '07 season. "Yeah, especially this year with the racing, doing two Grand Tours then going for the ProTour at the end of the year, throw in the trip to China... this year I had to put off a lot of things 'til the end of the season and they've now been put off until the next off season," he said. "I'm doing this, I want to do it 110 percent while I'm doing it, so I'll enjoy it while I can."

Di Luca appeals three-month suspension

By Gregor Brown

Giro d'Italia winner Danilo Di Luca has appealed his three-month suspension relating to the Oil for Drugs investigation. The 31 year-old Italian from Abruzzo, accused of using the services of Doctor Carlo Santuccione, appealed the Italian cycling federation (FCI) Disciplinary Commission's decision of last October to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The CAS verdict may arrive as late as April – after the suspension of Di Luca finishes (January 16) – but Di Luca wants to fight what he believes was a unjustifiable verdict. "It is a question of principle," he said to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "I have said from the start that the sentence did not seem justifiable, and I want to demonstrate my innocence."

Santuccione was disqualified as a Italian sports medicine doctor for five years in 1995 after being found to have provided doping substances to athletes.

After closing out a three-year contract with Liquigas at the end of this month, Di Luca will ride with Team LPR in 2008. He signed for the Italian Professional Continental team last month.

Tinkoff rolls into '08 with new delivery

By Gregor Brown

The Italian Professional Continental team rolls along the Chianti hills
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

In preparations for the 2008 season, Team Tinkoff Credit Systems has closed out its first training camp. The Italian Professional Continental team, backed by Russian financier Oleg Tinkov, met in Castello di Tornano (Siena), Italy, this week.

The 19-man team, including Mikhail Ignatiev and Pavel Brutt, posed in various locations amongst the rolling vineyard covered hills for team photographs. The meeting was an opportunity to bond and distribute the new team kit, which is highlighted by the addition of a credit card logo representing the Russian brand.

While preparing for its second year as a top-level team, the boys celebrated the birth of Evgeni Petrov's first son, Danil. The new born weighs 3.250kg.

In the next week the team will meet along the Rivera Romagnola in the town of Riccione for its second camp.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Roberto Bettini/

Van Bon to Trek - Marco Polo

Leon Van Bon (Rabobank)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Dutchman Leon van Bon will ride for the Trek - Marco Polo Cycling Team in 2008, stepping out of the ProTour ranks after leaving the Rabobank team to lead the team of up and coming riders in the Asian UCI circuit.

Van Bon, a former medalist at Olympic Games (silver points race, Barcelona) and World Championships (bronze, San Sebastian), has won two stages of the Tour de France and one in the Vuelta a España.

Van Bon will provide valuable experience for promising talents such as Sergey Kudentsov, winner of a stage of this year's Tour of Korea, and climber Jai Crawford. Van Bon is the second rider on the team that comes directly from the Pro Tour ranks, after Fuyu Li of China, who rode for the Discovery Channel Pro Tour team in 2007.

Van Bon is happy to have found a good way to end his career in cycling. "The Trek - Marco Polo Team allows me to combine teaching the younger Asian riders, have the challenge of a racing circuit that is new to me and find new experiences in my life."

The complete Trek - Marco Polo Cycling roster: Fuyu Li (Chn), Xing Yandong (Chn), Liu Yilin (Chn), Yu Tong (Chn), Ken Onodera (Jpn), Yu Takenouchi (Jpn), Loh Sea Keong (Mas), Sergey Kudentsov (Rus), Jai Crawford (Aus), Leon van Bon (Ned)

New Giant Asia contracts for Irish riders

By Shane Stokes

Former Irish national champion David McCann and Kerry's Paul Griffin will both compete with the Giant Asia team in 2008, lining out against the top riders on that continent.

McCann had a successful showing with the team from 2004 to 2006, winning races such as the Tour of Korea, the Tour of Milad du Nour and landing stage victories in the Tour of Qinghai Lake, the Tour of Thailand and the Herald Sun Tour. He also took the Irish national road race championship, two national time trial titles and the FBD Insurance Rás in that time.

The 34 year-old competed with the Colavita Sutter Home team in the US this season but didn't manage to hit the same form. He and Giant Asia will be hoping that his return to the Continental team will see him back to his best in 2008.

Meanwhile 34 year old Griffin has been offered a new one year contract with the squad. He will have an early start to his season when he lines out in the six day Tour of Taiwan this Sunday.

He had a consistent time with the team in 2007, taking sixth overall in the Tour of East Java, seventh overall in the Jelajah Tour in Malaysia, ninth in the Tour of Taiwan, eleventh in the Tour of Siam and 18th in the Tour of Langkawi. The Giant Asia riders also took collective success in the latter event, beating many top pro squads. He said that this was one of his highlights of the year.

"Winning the team prize in the Tour of Langkawi was really special," he stated. "Beating ProTour teams like that was great."

Griffin has named the Malaysian race as one of his big goals for 2008. "The Tour de Langkawi is likely to be the first big target. I would love to do well in Langkawi - I really like that race," he told Cyclingnews. "To be able to compete well now in such an event is great. I remember when I started doing it first, back in 1999 with the Irish team. It was just a case of hanging on and finishing. So it is great to go back now and be able to attack in the mountains."

Mancebo jumps ship from sinking Relax-GAM

Francisco Mancebo has signed with the UCI European Continental team Fercase - Rota dos Móveis , according to His Relax-GAM team was reportedly unable to secure an additional sponsor to fulfil its budget obligations in order to renew its UCI Professional Continental license.

Mancebo, who rode in 2006 for AG2R Prévoyance and for Banesto/iBanesto/Illes Baleares from 1998-2005 joined two other Spaniards in boosting the Portuguese team's roster. Alexis Rodriguez, who re-signed, and Mancebo's former Banesto team-mate, Eladio Jimenez (Karpin-Galicia).

Trialer to tackle China's highest building

By Juan B. Estrada

Colombian trials rider Javier Zapata Cuartas, famous in the national sport and international area for climbing on his bicycle several of the highest buildings of Latin America, is preparing intensely to face the most difficult challenge of his life: scaling the highest building in China and the highest fourth skyscraper of the world, the Jin Mao tower.

With the support of "Pantaloncillos Leo" as his main sponsor and accompanied by Indeportes Antioquia and GW Bicycles, Zapata will attempt to scale all 2008 steps of the 88-story tower without putting a foot down on December 31.

In recent years, the Colombian bike trialer climbed the highest buildings in his country and Latin America, such as the Coltejer with 38 floors, and the Copatria with 48. He also scaled the Major Tower in Mexico with 60 floors and the Tower Central Park in Caracas with 55.

The 348 metre high Jin Mao is the highest tower of China and one of the most representative architectural emblems of Asia. Javier Zapata is one of the only three riders invited to do this contest. The other two are Zhang Jincheng, who climbed the Jin Mao last year, and the Andorran Xavi Casas.

Concussion for Vardaros

Vanderkitten's Christine Vardaros will miss the US Cyclo-cross championships after suffering a severe concussion from an accident sustained at her home in Belgium. Vardaros hit her head on a low wooden beam in the attic of her house, and then re-injured her head again at the Asper-Gavere Superprestige race on November 18, and was unable to make the trip back to the USA.

After consulting with a neurologist Vardaros was told to spend time off the bike. "It's been rough sitting in a dark, silent room the past days," Vardaros said. "And I can't even do sit-ups to pass time! But if this is what it takes to race again soon, then I'm somewhat happy to do it!"

Assuming recovery goes well, Vardaros may resume racing as early as December 21 at Scheldecross in Belgium.

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