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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for February 7, 2007

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

UCI to pay end of career allowances

The first end of career allowances, amounting to 20,000 Swiss Francs (12.500 Euros), will soon be paid to retired cyclists, the UCI announced. The measure, described as a form of social benefit for riders, is designed to help the former pros train to get started with another career.

Any rider retiring from the sport, who is aged at least 30 and who has competed at least 30 days per year during a minimum period of five years in a UCI ProTeam or a UCI professional continental team, may request the payment of this allowance. The fund, set up by the CPA (Association of Professional Cyclists), was created thanks to a deduction of five percent from prize money, carried out since 2002 at all professional races (UCI ProTour and UCI Continental Circuits).

Italians open 2007 campaigns

By Gregor Brown

The big Italian names are starting their 2007 seasons preparing for yearly objectives, like the Spring Classics or Grand Tours. Yesterday in France was the traditional European season opener, the GP d'Ouverture, but for Italy the race that kicks off the season is the GP Costa degli Etruschi, February 10.

World Champ Bettini is looking forward to 2007
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

World champion Paolo Bettini (QuickStep) has confirmed that Donoratico will be his season start. Il Grillo Livornese will be racing on home turf against sprinters like Alessandro Petacchi (Milram). The race will prepare him for his early season objectives, Milano-Sanremo and the Tour of Flanders.

2006 Sanremo winner Filippo Pozzato will make his Liquigas debut in Spain. Pippo, eyeing a repeat in Italy's big one-day race, March 24, will start in the Trofeo Mallorca on February 11 according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. Joining Pippo will be teammate Danilo Di Luca, who will be building for the Ardennes Classics and the Giro d'Italia.

Other Giro favourites start later. Ivan Basso, 2006 Giro winner, will make his Discovery Channel debut in the west, at the Tour of California, February 18 - 25. He is building for a Giro-Tour de France double and will have the backing of the entire American squad to achieve the goal.

One of Basso's major rivals, Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital), will start his season on the same day, but in Spain, at the Ruta del Sol, February 18 - 22. Il Piccolo Principe will concentrate solely on the Giro for 2007, hoping to repeat his victory of 2004.

Last of the Giro favourites to start is Il Falco Bergamasco, Paolo Savoldelli. The two-time Giro winner will make his debut in Astana colours on March 7 at the Vuelta Ciclista a Murcia. Of note, is that fellow two-time Giro winner, Gilberto Simoni (Saunier Duval-Prodir), has already started his season, when he participated in the Vuelta a San Luis on January 23.

Chronologically, the Italian cycling stars will make their 2007 racing debuts at the following events:

Gilberto Simoni (Saunier Duval-Prodir) - Vuelta a San Luis, January 23
Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) - GP Costa degli Etruschi, February 10
Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas) - Trofeo Mallorca, February 11
Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) - Trofeo Mallorca, February 11
Ivan Basso (Discovery Channel) - Tour of California, February 18
Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) - Ruta del Sol, February 18
Paolo Savoldelli (Astana) - Vuelta Ciclista a Murcia, March 7

Mancebo feels "a cyclist again"

By Monika Prell

Paco Mancebo
Photo ©: Régis Garnier
(Click for larger image)

Francisco Mancebo, one of the important signings of Spanish team Relax-GAM, feels "like an amateur that turns professional. After a very difficult year I'm feeling again like a cyclist. I'm very happy in this team." Mancebo confirmed to newspaper Marca that he "had more offers, but here I'm better than anywhere else. I'm beginning a new chapter, I'm happy."

The former Ag2r rider is willing to make a qualitative leap and his objectives are "la Vuelta a España, where I will try to fight for overall, but I also would like to win the Spanish championship, or the Vuelta a Cataluña and other stage races." The first pedal strokes in that direction have been made in Argentina, at the Vuelta a San Luis, where he finished third on General Classification and also first in the Team Classification.

Mancebo, who was linked to Spanish doping scandal Operacion Puerto but cleared by his federation, is not afraid of encountering problems with other riders at the races. "I'm sure that in the races the others will respect me. I see that the fans are still behind me and I don't expect any problems," he said. Nevertheless, he complained about the way the suspects of the affair were treated by the ProTour teams, "like lepers" in his opinion. Mancebo added that "directors have mistreated the cyclists and have influenced the ProTour teams."

Indurain defends anti-doping controls

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Spanish cycling great Miguel Indurain has played down the importance of the number of doping cases that have occurred in cycling in recent years, as he assured to press agency Europa press that they were "similar" in amount to other sports.

"Cycling was the first sport that assumed anti-doping controls, so all cyclists know that the results will be published, and in this sense, they have to accept that," the five-times Tour de France winner explained in a press conference in Logroño, Spain, where he sat down with the former Spanish athlete Martin Fiz and the former Real Madrid football club trainer, Vicente del Bosque.

Indurain thought that the publication of doping cases allowed to make the sport cleaner. "The controls do not have to damage the cycling image", the former professional cyclist said in addition. He also expressed his total confidence in the anti-doping fight. "There are norms that have to be fulfilled by all cyclists", he commented on the subject.

Steels improving

Steels on the deck
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Belgian pro Tom Steels broke his collarbone in a bunch sprint crash in the second stage of the Tour of Qatar just nine days ago, but the Predictor-Lotto rider is already getting better. "I trained two hours on Sunday," he told Belgian media. "With pain killers of course, because I really feel that my body got a serious knock-over. But it's okay..."

Steels will join his teammates in a training camp in Italy this week, but he will not be at the start of the GP Costa degli Etruschi this coming Saturday, February 10. Instead, he will make his return to racing on February 21 in the Portuguese Volta ao Algarve.

Chiappucci keeps his own memories of Pantani

By Gregor Brown

Former champion and teammate of Marco Pantani, Claudio Chiappucci, has his own memories of Marco Pantani that were not altered by Il Pirata-Marco Pantani, the film which recently debuted on Italian Television. El Diablo spent the end of his career on the same team as the little climber and has fond memories. (Read others' reactions to the film.)

"I want to remember him like a cyclist, it does not interest me how they had shown him in television," he explained to Blogosfere Sport e motor. "We rode a lot of years together on the same team, often sharing the same room. The differences with us were the fault of other persons, and the press would often pit us against each other. The journalists like to create a duel between two cyclists like us. Anyway, I have my own memories of Marco. I remember beautiful things, and carry in my heart the truth."

The end of the film Il Pirata-Marco Pantani focused on the dark, later years of Il Romagnolo's life. Chiappucci remembers how Pantani was often alone in those years leading up to his death. "He was an impressive racer; he came away with incredible results even with the bad accidents that were his main protagonists.

"He was strong, but the true downfall of Marco is that he never had real friends. He remained isolated. He did not have near him the right people to help him escape his problems. Then after he died everyone cried how someone should have done something. After his death all the books came out on his life, now this film. It is sad to say, but the death of Marco created work and money for many."

Leblanc vs. Polti case still ongoing

Former Polti rider Luc Leblanc has turned towards the court of first instance in Bobigny, France, to a bid to recover wages owed by the team management company since 1999. The 1994 World Champion was sacked in December 1998, one year before the end of his contract, and decided to sue Polti for illegal dismissal.

The management company of the now defunct team, Il Gabbiano, was owned by Gianluigi Stanga and did not have the resources to pay Leblanc, which is why the Italian federation (FCI) was made liable in 2001. However, the FCI refused to make the payment despite heavy pressure from the UCI, and tried to free itself from the responsibility in 2002. The UCI even threatened to suspend the FCI over the affair.

"It's an exemplary case," Leblanc's attorney Brusa told French media on Monday. "Il Gabbiano has disappeared, but its manager M. Stanga has created a different structure, Cyclo Sport, for the team Milram which obtained a ProTour license." Leblanc is now suing the FCI, the French cycling federation (FFC) as well as the UCI, "which put its head in the sand in this affair, and tried to gain time more than anything."

Niedersachsen Rundfahrt with new name

By Susan Westemeyer

The Niedersachsen Rundfahrt will be held this year under a new name, Lotto Rundfahrt, representing its newest sponsor. The race will run five stages from April 24-29 through the German states of Niedersachsen and Nordrhein-Westfalen, over 888.1 kilometres.

A total of 14 teams of eight riders will take part. The ProTour will be represented by Milram, Rabobank, Gerolsteiner, T-Mobile, and Astana. The Professional Continental teams taking part will be Wiesenhof-Felt, Skil-Shimano, Ceramiche Panaria Navigare, and Navigators. Three Continental teams, all German, are also participating: 3C-Gruppe Lamonta, Regiostrom Senges, and Thüringer Energie. Two additional teams will be announced later.

The stages outline as follows:

Stage 1: Wednesday, April 25, Wallenhorst - Bremen, 159.8 km
Stage 2: Thursday, April 26, Bremen - Melle, 186.9 km
Stage 3: Friday, April 27, Melle - Rheda-Wiedenbrück, 160.9 km
Stage 4: Saturday, Rheda-Wiedenbrück - Duderstadt, 198.7 km
Stage 5: Sunday, Osterode - Göttingen, 181.6 km

Gerolsteiner for Mallorca

Team Gerolsteiner is sending a total of 15 riders to the Mallorca Challenge, which starts Sunday, February 11. The race consists of five independent one-day races, and teams may use different line-ups on various days. The German team will be led by David Kopp, who won one of the races, the Trofeo Calvia, last year.

Gerolsteiner for the Mallorca Challenge: Robert Förster, Johannes Fröhlinger, Thomas Fothen, Oscar Gatto, Heinrich Haussler, Tim Klinger, David Kopp, Sebastian Lang, Matthias Ruß, Ronny Scholz, Stefan Schumacher, Tom Stamsnijder, Marcel Strauss, Carlo Westphal and Beat Zberg.

Signed Australian team jerseys up for grabs

A host of Australian cycling stars have rallied to support injured cyclists Renee Junga and Paul Crake through two unique signed official Australian team jerseys now up for auction on E-Bay.

"This is a chance for two lucky sporting fans to own a piece of Australian history and to support two riders in need of assistance as they deal with their injuries," said Cycling Australia CEO, Graham Fredericks. "All profits from the sale will be split between the Renee Junga and Paul Crake Appeals to aid them in their rehabilitation."

BMX World Championships medallist Renee Junga crashed in August 2006 while training on the 4X (Four-Cross) course at the World Mountainbike Championships in Rotorua, NZ. She suffered spinal injuries and remains paralysed from the waist down.

Cycling medallist and stair climbing champion, Paul Crake, from Canberra, is back in Australia undergoing rehabilitation in the wake of spinal surgery. In November last year Paul was one of five cyclists blown off the road by a powerful wind gust during the eighth stage of New Zealand's Tour of Southland. Paul is currently paralysed from the waist down.

The Olympic, World and Commonwealth Champions that have signed the jerseys include Robbie McEwen, Stuart O'Grady, Michael Rogers. Cadel Evans, Oenone Wood amongst many more.

To participate in the auction and raise funds for Junga and Crake, go to the pages corresponding to jersey 1, and/or jersey 2.

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