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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for February 12, 2007

Edited by Steve Medcroft

Kersten collects two gold on final day of Aus Championships

Ben Kersten takes out the Kilo
Photo ©: John Veage
(Click for larger image)

Commonwealth Games champion, Ben Kersten, collected two gold medals on the final day of competition at the Australian Track Cycling Championships in Sydney picking up the one kilometre time trial crown, his third straight, and backing up to win the inaugural men's omnium.

Kersten came into the Championships as the defending champion in the sprint, kilometre and keirin but, apart from a silver medal with the NSW trio in the teams sprint, he had struggled to find top form in the wake of back surgery last July.

"I haven't trained at all, it's been ten months since I did a standing start (in the kilometre at the World Championships in Bordeaux) so I'm just going through the motions at the moment," said Kersten who won the time trial gold with a time of 1min02.870sec. "It's a good confidence booster and a 1:02 when you're unfit is pretty good.

"I'm sort of getting used to the fact that I'm not on top of the world this week, so I'm not expecting to match last year's sort of things and I'm taking each day at a time and being happy with things within a race rather than the result," he said as he prepared to line up for a further four events to complete the five race omnium. "I was really hoping it wasn't (going to be a rebuilding year) and I would pick up where I left off. But they wouldn't operate until July and then it took me four months to be able to ride again."

But despite the setback Kersten put in a super effort today to also claim gold by winning three of the five events that make up the omnium. He opened with the kilometre time trial victory, followed by a second win in the flying 200m. Kersten was second in the scratch race, won the individual pursuit and did enough with his third place in the points race to cement his victory with 8 points, six ahead of silver medallist Joel Leonard with NSW rider, Jackson-Leigh Rathbone third.

"Because I'm not world class at the moment I'll try and eye something like the omnium (for World Championships) so I don't have a year off," he said. "I get to do an event that suits me, it's not an Olympic event, but it will keep me motivated and then I'm going to Japan in May (keirin racing) which will keep me fit through the winter which is good for me for when we start trying to put times on the board (ahead of Beijing selection)."

For a full report, results and photos from the final day of the Australian Track National Championships, click here.

Discovery Channel cites internal pressure for dropping cycling sponsorship

By Susan Westemeyer

The Discovery Channel's decision to drop its sponsorship of the cycling team was not due to cycling's current doping problems, but these problems could make the search for a new sponsor more difficult. In an interview with the New York Times, Discovery Channel spokeswoman Annie Howell said that the doping difficulties "were not a part of the decision," and added that the the company had "deep respect" for team director Johan Bruyneel and the rest of the team management.

In another interview with the Times, Bill Stapleton, a part-owner of the team, said they hoped to find another American sponsor for the team. He noted, however, that Floyd Landis' positive test after the Tour de France "took the wind out of a lot of peoples' sails" around cycling. In addition, some of the co-sponsors have "expressed their displeasure and doubts about continuing."

"Nobody asked to be let out of their contract," he said. "What we said to all of our sponsors was that Floyd wasn't on our team, and we never had a positive test. We understand it's a suspect environment right now, but we answered all their questions." Discussions have already been held with several potential sponsors. "Right now, it's an easy 'no' because of everything that has gone on in the sport," Stapleton noted. "The good news is we have plenty of time. We have a number of target companies, and we've already talked with some of them, but I think it could be more difficult than the last time [he looked for a new sponsor]."

Bettini en route to Tour of California

By Gregor Brown

Paolo Bettini
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Saturday in the GP Etruschi, World Champion Paolo Bettini (Quickstep-Innergetic) concluded his first race of the season, and will soon depart for his second; leaving from his home town of La California and travelling to the Tour of California, in the USA. "Tuesday I go from La California to California," joked Bettini to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "The wines they have copied are good. We will see about the riders."

"I have finished my first [race], how many are left? Ninety?" Il Grillo Livornese had a calm race to start his 2007 season, a very different story than his teammate Steven De Jongh, who crashed in the final metres. "I took De Jongh to the front with three kilometres to go and then I packed in; I do not yet have the legs and the first race, everyone wants to be up front and it is really nervous."

"I had good sensations," continued the World Champion, who finished 95th for the day. "I thought it would have been worse. I still have work to do, but with the bike there is always work to do." Regarding the race location, he added, "To pass in front of the house where I was born and raised with the World Champion jersey was like a dream became a reality."

Bettini will compete in the eight-day Tour of California stage race in USA, running from February 18 to 25.

Les Woodland retro: The birth of the cyclist's agent

After World War II, cycling was the most popular sport in the world, with hundreds of star riders. With the constant demand for the stars at events hundreds of miles apart, a new breed of businessman evolved; the sports agent. In an ideal world, the agent is an employee of an athlete, working to secure the best terms for an athlete and guide them through a career. In its first form though, as Cyclingnews' Les Woodland reports, the agent-cyclist relationship looked more like indentured servitude:

Anquetil and Poulidor depended on their agents during the sports chaotic 1950s.
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

A friend of mine is a policewoman. It was a job she liked but talking about it was a conversation-stopper. People rarely care to find they're talking to an off-duty copper.

She couldn't say she was a surgeon or a plumber or a traveller in pills for sick horses because it might just be that the other person was as well. So she hit on a solution.

"You know those machines in public lavatories, the ones that sell condoms?" she'd ask brightly. And her new companion would agree, somewhat suspiciously that, yes, he knew what she was talking about.

"Well," my friend would say, "I'm the woman who restocks them."

It was an even better conversation-stopper than saying she was a policeman.

Some jobs are inherently less popular than others. And ten years ago this year, there died a man whose job made him the most unpopular of all. He was a bike rider's agent. And by the time he died in 1997, he and his colleague Roger Piel had tied up so much of professional racing for decades that riders were, in the words of the writer William Fotheringham, "in a form of tied labour".

For the complete Les Woodland retro feature, click here.

Ale-Jet Back to winning ways

By Gregor Brown

Alessandro Petacchi (Milram)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Not in the twelve year history of the of GP Etruschi has one rider won three-times; retired sprinter Mario Cipollini won twice but, Saturday, it was his compatriot, Alessandro Petacchi (Milram), who stormed to victory for the third year in a row. Not only did he put his name firmly in the race's annals but he also gave himself the needed win after being off the top step of the podium for 293 days.

Ale-Jet, 33 years-old from La Spezia, went long in the sprint, avoided a crash and came out on top of Italians Balducci and Bennati. "The key point in Etruschi is not the sprint but the descent that takes you from five to two kilometres to go," remarked Petacchi after the race to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "You take on a lot of speed, and if you lose a wheel, it is difficult to come back. It was in this point that we [Milram] got lost."

Petacchi is still working out the fine details of his sprint train. He explained, "[Brett] Lancaster and [Volodymyr] Dyudya had lost their positions and had to work to re-enter. With two kilometres we arrived on the left and them on the right. Dyudya was able to get back but not Lancaster.

"Then Dyudya did everything; on his wheel was Fabio Baldato [Lampre-Fondital]. ... Then [Alberto] Ongarato took over with one kilometre to go; too much. As the metres passed the speed slowed. Ongarato did all he could, then at some point Enrico Degano [Barloworld] attacked. Marco Velo did everything possible and then Steven De Jongh [Quickstep-Innergetic] attacked with the wind at his back."

He had to get on to the Dutchman's wheel. "I had to do two sprints; one to get back on and the other to the finish line. Two times is no joke. If I had had someone on my wheel then I would have lost."

From Italy he will travel to Portugal for the Volta Algarve, followed by the Volta Valenciana, Tirreno-Adriatico and then his early season goal, Milano-Sanremo. Objectives for the year? "Just one. To win. Everything."

Förster gives insight into out-of-competition testing

By Susan Westemeyer

Exactly what happens when a pro cyclist has to undergo an unannounced, out-of-competition doping test? Gerolsteiner's Robert Förster explained on his website, what happened on the island of Mallorca when he returned to his hotel room after a massage and found a young woman waiting outside his room. "NADA, national anti-doping agency. 'I ask you to follow me,' she said decisively. I wanted to change my shoes and get a bottle of water to take with me. 'Please bring a bottle that has not yet been opened.' That was new to me. But ok. Then we went room to room and gathered three more teammates."

"'Do you all have your identification with you?' Of course not, for the last control we only needed to show our licenses. So we all went back to our rooms, with our escort, to pick up our IDs."

"When we arrived in the control room, there was (male) controller waiting for us. Then things went their usual way. Pick out a cup, then a holder with the glasses for the A and B samples. I was ready and went with the controller to the toilet. 'First wash your hands.' That was new to me, but okay. Then the t-shirt pulled up to the breast and the pants pulled down to the knees. Have to give at least 110 ml urine. That's not always so easy when this guy is standing just inches away from you. No matter how routine this is, sometimes it takes a while before the cup is full."

"When that was done, the paperwork started. Compare the numbers of the A and B samples with the number on the paper and answer all the questions. Are you taking any medication? Do you have a certificate (allowing you to use certain products)? Have you undergone a blood transfusion in the last six months?"

"I was finished with all that, but the young lady told me to stay seated. All four urine tests had to be made. But why? Then we're going to take you blood, she said. So I had to wait. It took about an hour before the last one was finished. Then they took our blood, four tubes of it. Three of them were numbered and locked away in a secure holder. Again we had to wait until everyone was finished. Then the fourth tube was put through a centrifuge and numbered."

"An enormous amount of effort that took about two hours. The controls are necessary and the NADA shows that it also conducts controls in training camps in foreign lands. Such controls are important to make our sport believeable. We can only hope that other countries also handle it so strictly."

Millar calls for Puerto resolution

By Monika Prell

David Millar
Photo ©: Unipublic
(Click for larger image)

Scottish cyclist David Millar talked to the Spanish newspaper AS about the Operación Puerto doping affair and his own return to cycling. He said that he was really affected that "amongst the concerned cyclists really are some that are not guilty, but who are paying. The affair should be concluded as soon as possible." He clarified his stance to Cyclingnews on Monday, saying that he wants the innocent riders to be cleared and the guilty ones to be sanctioned, and that the delay in doing so was regrettable.

He sees one possibility to stop doping: "Perhaps Sport directors and medicals should also be sanctioned. Until now, only the cyclist is castigated. The cyclist disappears, but the system stays the same."

After his confessions about having doped and his return to the cycling with the team Saunier Duval, he is pleased that in the peloton "all respected me". The only thing he regrets is the loss of his 2003 time-trial gold medal in the World championship. "My objectives for this year are the prologue of the Tour de France, disputed in London, and later on the World championship." He affirmed that he was "very tired" after having ridden the Vuelta a España in 2006, so that he did not well the time trial of the world championship. "This year I will ride the Vuelta, but I'll do it like Cancellara, I'll stop at the middle of the race for preparing the time trial."

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'

May 18, 2009 - Valverde to start Catalunya
May 15, 2009 - Valverde not welcome in Denmark
May 14, 2009 - Spanish federation wants proof in Valverde case
May 13, 2009 - Spanish Olympic Committee defends Valverde
May 12, 2009 - Valverde responds to sanction
May 11, 2009 - Italian tribunal delivers Valverde two-year suspension
May 8, 2009 - Valverde case: Italian Olympic Committee defends Torri
May 7, 2009 - Valverde to take legal action against CONI prosecutor
May 5, 2009 - WADA and Spanish federation join CONI and UCI on Valverde
May 1, 2009 - International Cycling Union joins in on Valverde's hearing in Italy

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of Operación Puerto

Australian cyclist injured in freak road accident

Australian cyclist Matthew Rex is in a serious but stable condition after being hit by a car driven by friend and training partner Chris Jongewaard in Normanville, South Australia on Saturday night. Rex, a former member of the Australian Institute of Sport's under 23 program who now rides for Stuart O'Grady's development squad, Team O'Grady, sustained severe head injuries in the accident and is currently in an induced coma.

Rex was riding with another person when the crash happened near to the Normanville hotel where Rex and Jongewaard had been celebrating Rex's 22nd birthday. "The circumstances of the crash are extremely unusual," said Rex's manager Max Stevens to the Adelaide Sunday Mail. "The family is obviously devastated with what's happened. It looks like a case of a birthday celebration that has turned into a tragedy."

According to a police spokesman, Jongewaard, a recent winner of the Australian Mountain Bike Championship, had undergone a breath test after the accident.

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